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Lasers shine light on galactic magnetic fields

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By reproducing conditions found in developing galaxies, physicists have shown that shock waves can generate tiny 'seed' magnetic fields, which might eventually grow into the large-scale magnetic fields we observe today. The research is described in this Nature today. 'Observations indicate that magnetic fields are ubiquitous in galaxy clusters, galaxies, and even in voids,' said Gianluca Gregori, lead author of the study from the University of Oxford in England. 'To explain this large-scale magnetization, magnetic fields must have existed for a long time. But where have these magnetic seeds come from?...One of the proposed methods for creating seeds is via shock waves generated by collapsing matter in developing 'protogalaxies.''

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