Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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NASA’s Hubble Finds Massive Halo Around Andromeda, Reveals How Galaxies Are Born

A massive gaseous halo around the Andromeda Galaxy has been discovered by a group of scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, a discovery that will answer scientists about the giant spiral galaxies and its evolution and structure such as the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Astrophysicists Nicolas Lehner and J. Christopher Howk of the University of Notre Dame and Bart P. Wakker of the University of Wisconsin have discovered and published the research study in The Astrophysical Journal last week titled "Evidence for a Massive, Extended Circumgalactic Medium Around the Andromeda Galaxy."

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According to the lead investigator Nicolas Lehner in a statement released by Notre Dame News, the halos were the gaseous atmospheres of the galaxies. "The properties of these gaseous halos control the rate at which stars form in galaxies," Lehner said.

One of the important findings of the study the group of astrophysicists pointed out was that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy may merge before the two galaxies collide together and form a giant elliptical galaxy 4 billion years from now, the Norte Dame News reported.

Physics professor J. Christopher Howk of Notre Dame said that as the light from the quasars traveled toward NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the massive halo's gas would absorb some of the light and make quasar appeared a little darker in a just a very small wavelength range, Norte Dame News reported. "By measuring the dip in brightness, we can tell how much halo gas from M31 there is between us and that quasar," Howk said.

Lehner said that the discovery is a milestone because only one quasar was used to probe the halos of galaxies beyond the Local Group, according to a report by Tech Times. "Here we have assembled a large sample of quasar that directly demonstrate the true extent of the halo of a single massive galaxy," Lehner added.

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