Image of the Day: Gigantic Cosmic Bubbles

 

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This image shows central region of the spiral galaxy NGC 4631 as seen edge-on from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. The Chandra data (shown in blue and purple) provide the first unambiguous evidence for a halo of hot gas surrounding a galaxy that is very similar to our Milky Way. So many supernovae have exploded in the central region of NGC 4631 that they have created a superwind of gas blowing out of the plane of the galaxy, which has produced a giant, diffuse corona or halo of hot, X-ray emitting gas around the entire galaxy


The structure across the middle of the image and the extended faint filaments (shown in orange) represent the observation from Hubble that reveals giant bursting bubbles created by clusters of massive stars. Scientists have debated for over 40 years whether the Milky Way has an extended corona, or halo, of hot gas. Observations of NGC 4631 and similar galaxies provide astronomers with a key tool in the understanding our own galactic environment.

Imgae credit: NASA/CXC/UMass/D.Wang et al., Optical: NASA/HST/D.Wang et al.

 

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