W.M. Keck Observatory | University of California, San Diego | 2019 Oct 30
Researchers Directly Observe for the First Time a Huge Outflow of Gas Extending Far Beyond a Galaxy
Exploring the influence of galactic winds from a distant galaxy called Makani, University of California, San Diego’s Alison Coil, Rhodes College’s David Rupke and a group of collaborators from around the world made a novel discovery using W. M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii Island.
Published online today in the journal Nature, their study’s findings provide direct evidence for the first time of the role of galactic winds—ejections of gas from galaxies—in creating the circumgalactic medium (CGM). It exists in the regions around galaxies, and it plays an active role in their cosmic evolution. The unique composition of Makani—meaning ‘wind’ in Hawaiian—uniquely lent itself to the breakthrough findings.
“Makani is not a typical galaxy,” noted Coil, a physics professor at UC San Diego. “It’s what’s known as a late-stage major merger—two recently combined similarly massive galaxies, which came together because of the gravitational pull each felt from the other as they drew nearer. Galaxy mergers often lead to starburst events, when a substantial amount of gas present in the merging galaxies is compressed, resulting in a burst of new star births. Those new stars, in the case of Makani, likely caused the huge outflows—either in stellar winds or at the end of their lives when they exploded as supernovae.” ...
A 100-Kiloparsec Wind Feeding the Circumgalactic Medium of a Massive Compact Galaxy ~ David S. N. Rupke et al