Science & Tech

Cosmic ‘superbubbles’ bespeak toil and trouble

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Merging galaxies astonish astronomers

The merging Antennae Galaxies in constellation Corvus are producing massive bubbles of expanding X-ray-emitting gas at such astonishing rates that they are bumping into each other. Giuseppina Fabbiano, Andreas Zezas and Stephen Murray of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to capture in unprecedented detail this phenomenon. Fabbiano said that the observations provide a nearby example of the what it was like 15 billion years ago when our universe was young and galaxies were just forming. “Galaxies were much closer together then,” explained Fabbiano. “Collisions like the ones that produced the Antennae were much more common, and played a major role in shaping the galaxies we see around us today.”