The pseudogap region of the phase diagram is an important unsolved puzzle in the field of high-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductivity, characterized by anomalous physical properties. There are open questions about the number of distinct phases and the possible presence of a quantum-critical point underneath the superconducting dome. The picture has remained unclear because there has not been conclusive evidence for a new type of order. Neutron scattering measurements for YBa2Cu 3O6+δ (YBCO) resulted in contradictory claims of no and weak magnetic order, and the interpretation of muon spin relaxation measurements on YBCO and of circularly polarized photoemission experiments on Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ(refs 12, 13) has been controversial. Here we use polarized neutron diffraction to demonstrate for the model superconductor HgBa2CuO4+δ (Hg1201) that the characteristic temperature T* marks the onset of an unusual magnetic order. Together with recent results for YBCO, this observation constitutes a demonstration of the universal existence of such a state. The findings appear to rule out theories that regard T* as a crossover temperature rather than a phase transition temperature. Instead, they are consistent with a variant of previously proposed charge-current-loop order that involves apical oxygen orbitals, and with the notion that many of the unusual properties arise from the presence of a quantum-critical point.
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Acknowledgements We thank H. Alloul and C. Varma for comments. The work at Stanford University was supported by grants from the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.