Messier 82 is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Streamlines show the magnetic field morphology determined from 53 μm polarization maps obtained with SOFIA’s HAWC+ instrument. The image combines visible starlight (gray) and H-alpha emission (red) from the Kitt Peak 2.1 m (Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey Legacy project), and near-infrared and mid-infrared starlight plus dust from Spitzer and SOFIA (3.6 and 53 μm; yellow).
The magnetic field is clearly perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy and appears to follow the bipolar outflows generated by the intense nuclear starburst. This geometry extends over a region at least 700 parsecs (pc) along the disk and up to 200 pc above and below the plane.