Milky Way’s halo is much hotter than imagined, study finds

Hyperaxion Jun 1, 2020

Learning more about the halo can help researchers understand how our Galaxy has been growing and changing over time.

Researchers at Ohio State University in the United States found that the halo surrounding the Milky Way is much hotter than scientists believed. The new findings were presented at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held virtually between the 1st and the 3rd of June.

Milky Way's halo is much hotter than imagined
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; NASA/CXC/Ohio State/A Gupta et al).

The Milky Way’s halo is nothing more than a hazy fog of dust, gas, and dark matter surrounding the Galaxy. In recent studies, the Ohio team had previously discovered that the halo is at least 10 times hotter than previously thought. Now, the most recent analysis shows that its temperature reaches 10 million degrees Celsius in some regions.

“We can’t say for sure that it is everywhere, because we have not analyzed the entire halo,” said Smita Mathur, one of the researchers, in a statement. “But we know now that the temperatures we saw in the first study definitely are not unique, and that is very exciting.”

Learning more about the halo, which is the final barrier between a galaxy and the wider universe around it, can help researchers understand how it grows and changes over time. “We are trying to learn about the elements that form these halos, and about the temperatures there,” said Mathur. “Knowing those things can help us understand more about how galaxies connect with the rest of the universe, and how they formed and where elements might have come from.”

Related topics:

Milky Way

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