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Hubble Space Telescope spots protective shield against greedy Milky Way - Space.com

Hubble Space Telescope spots protective shield against greedy Milky Way - Space.com

Hubble Space Telescope spots protective shield against greedy Milky Way - Space.com
Sep 30, 2022 1 min, 38 secs

An odd shield of supercharged gas protects dwarf galaxies from being ripped apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way, 30 years' worth of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal.

For years, astronomers have struggled to explain why the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two tiny galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, still form stars.

The two dwarf galaxies have been orbiting our galactic home for billions of years, research suggests, during which the gravitational force of the much more massive Milky Way has been stripping gas from the two smaller galaxies, creating a trail in their wake.

This has led astronomers to theorize that the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds may be protected by a cosmic "shield" — called the Magellanic Corona — made up of supercharged gas with temperatures of half a million degrees.

Thus far, observational evidence of the Magellanic Corona has been elusive, but new research based on 30 years' worth of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and the now retired Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite may have changed that situation. .

When analyzing the data, Krishnarao and his colleagues found that the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — collectively known as the Magellanic system — are indeed surrounded by a shield of hot supercharged gas which cocoons the dwarf galaxies preventing their star-forming gas from being siphoned away by the Milky Way.

"Galaxies enveloped themselves in gaseous cocoons, which act as defensive shields against other galaxies," Andrew Fox, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, who was part of the team, said in the statement.

The team thinks that galactic coronas like the freshly discovered Magellanic Corona are the remains of primordial clouds of gas that undergo gravitational collapse and form galaxies.

— Gorgeous Hubble Space Telescope image shows turquoise waves rippling through Milky Way companion.

— Star cluster glitters in new Hubble Space Telescope photo.

— Hubble Space Telescope captures trippy 'mirror image' view of distant galaxy .


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