Our universe is so vast and holds a lot of mysteries. Even though we have come far when it comes to our general understanding of the cosmos, we are yet to fully grasp the large swath of heavenly bodies that surrounds us.
Though the Andromeda Galaxy is a close neighbor of the Milky Way Galaxy (which by the way is the galaxy where we belong in), we are still to discover an array of information about it. However, we are currently in the process of fully understanding our cosmic companion with the help of science and modern-day cutting-edge technology.
Researchers were able to document a giant halo immediate the galaxy with the use of the Hubble Space Telescope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The findings, which were shared by the space agency in a press release, shared that specialists were able to capture in full detail a faint image of a halo. Consisting of diffuse plasma material extending more than 1.3 million light-years from the galaxy, they posit that the galaxy’s halo is actually colliding with our own galaxy’s halo. They also reported that Andromeda’s halo follows a layered structure of the distribution of its materials as it diffuses in the vast cosmos.
A key finding of the study is the presence and discovery of heavy elements in the halo of Andromeda. This, they share, is the result of a violent death of a star that sends massive amounts of heavy elements on its wake. This finding is evidence of massive stellar explosions that may have occurred in the galaxy.
Dubbed as Project AMIGA or Absorption Map of Ionized Gas in Andromeda, astronomers were able to map the halo and its details through the examination of the light coming from more than forty quasars. These quasars helped in studying the halo, however, it is difficult to study them for the radiation that they emit is not easy to spot and detect.
But with the help of NASA’s Hubble, they were able to probe the quasars’ ultraviolet light thus leading to the discovery of the halo. With their findings, they hypothesize that we may have a similar halo compared to our galactic neighbor. It is hard, according to them, to analyze our own galactic signature from Earth because we are a part of the Milky Way. In fact, the study is the most comprehensive that deals with a halo surrounding a galaxy.
Scientists are optimistic that the project will lead to more studies on the subject as well as the eventual development of far more superior technologies and equipment to be able to conduct further research and gain more knowledge about our cosmos.
Quoted in the same press release, Nicolas Lehner, leader of the study hailing from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, declares that their project (Project AMIGA) has given us ‘a glimpse of the future’.
The Hubble Space Telescope is amongst NASA’s most powerful and helpful tools that aid in the study of our universe. It will be soon succeeded by James Webb in October.