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Astronomers ponder halos around galaxies

3 Jul 2019, 10:24 UTC
Astronomers ponder halos around galaxies ESO/NASA/ESA/A.Claeyssens/EWASS
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A galactic halo, or corona, stands out as an ethereal glowing ring in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a magnified galaxy, due to the gravitational lensing effect, behind a massive galaxy cluster. Image via ESO/NASA/ESA/A.Claeyssens/EWASS.
When we think of galaxies, we think of huge disks of billions of stars, dust and gas. Many are reminiscent of giant pinwheels. With the right instruments, though, astronomers can see more: halos of light, composed of neutral hydrogen, around galaxies. On June 24, 2019, the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon announced that its researchers have made new observations of distant galactic halos – sometimes called galactic coronae – using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The astronomers said MUSE sees halos around almost all distant galaxies it observes, but even then they are generally too small to show much detail or structure. To help with this, the new study combined the MUSE observations with what’s called gravitational lensing to study the halos in more detail.
The images and other data were presented at the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EWASS 2019) in Lyon, France, on June 25. Over 1,200 astronomers gathered for ...

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