What is a ‘Halo’ that was detected by NASA’s Hubble Telescope?

Published: September 1, 2020

Recently NASA’s Hubble Telescope for the first time ever signalled the presence of a giant halo of gas found surrounding the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbour – the Andromeda galaxy. Halo is nothing but a huge scattering of gas which is usually found surrounding the celestial bodies. Also known as M31, the Andromeda galaxy is a majestic spiral of around 1 trillion stars and comparable in size to our Milky Way galaxy. In 2015, Lehner’s team explored Andromeda’s halo to which they found massive but the recent probe has detailed its fine complexity. Its mass and size have been far more accurately explored this time than before. A group of astronomers from Yale University in their study found that the scale of Halo stretches 1.3 million light-years away from Andromeda bumping into the gas halo that surrounds our own Milky Way galaxy. Though, 2.5 million light-years away from our galaxy the Andromeda galaxy is predicted to collide with our Milky Way galaxy in about 4.5 billion years. And the resulting galaxy from the collision has been nicknamed either Milkomeda or Milkdromeda. This exploration may give us a glimpse of the future, answering questions of its inception. However, currently, such level of exploration can be only done with the Andromeda galaxy and not with other galaxies.

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