NASA has been operating the Hubble Space Telescope for a number of years now with repeated and significant success. While the images that have come from the telescope have been amongst the most impressive images ever captured in space, this latest discovery ranks up there amongst the best that has ever been captured.
A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame was able to find a distant galaxy with a halo around it, which was a first in terms of what the team had been able to find to that point. The Andromeda Galaxy was the subject of this find, and the halo that was found happened to be a gaseous cloud that engulfed the entire galaxy.
However, the distance is what has scientists so overjoyed by this find. This is a distant galaxy, but it it’s actually the closest galaxy that has ever been discovered by researchers to this point that has a well-documented halo around it, and is still relatively close to Earth. In fact, this is the closest discovered galaxy with a halo that has ever been discovered, in addition to just being one of the most interesting finds in galactic history.
Nicolas Lehner said of the find, “This is a new milestone because typically only one quasar is used to probe the halos of galaxies beyond the Local Group. Here we have assembled a large sample of quasars that directly demonstrate the true extent of the halo of a single massive galaxy.”
Co-investigator J. Christopher Howk pointed out that, “As the light from the quasars travels toward Hubble, the halo’s gas will absorb some of that light and make the quasar appear a little darker in just a very small wavelength range. By measuring the dip in brightness, we can tell how much halo gas from M31 there is between us and that quasar.” Ultimately, this is how the team was able to find the remarkable things that the Hubble captured.
However, the span of this project was massive. It spanned over five years of collected data and has given scientists an entirely new perspective on these further galaxies. Some of the most impressive information that has ever come from a space study of its nature was collected in this round, and ultimately will give scientists the ability to really take a closer look at these distant galaxies for further anomalies.