Hubble finds a shield blocking dwarf galaxies from the Milky Way

Astrophysicists have found a giant protective "screen" of hot gas surrounding the Large and Small Magellanic

Clouds.This cocoon prevents gas leaks from dwarf galaxies and retains the ability to create new stars. Although the region of hot gas extends over 100,000 light-years from the Magellanic Clouds and covers a vast portion of the southern sky, it is virtually invisible.

The crown protecting the Magellanic Clouds from our galaxy. Image: STSCI, Leah Hustak

In search of direct evidence for the existencecorona surrounding the galaxy, the researchers studied 30 years of astronomical observations from the Hubble telescope and the FUSE satellite. They were looking for observations of quasars that are located behind the Magellanic Clouds when viewed from Earth.

Quasars are extremely bright nuclei of galaxies.which are massive active black holes. The researchers hypothesized that while the corona would have to be too dim to be seen on its own, it would add a "haze" to images of distant quasars.

Observational data for the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Image: Dhanesh Krishnarao et al., Nature

Analyzing patterns in ultraviolet light from 28quasars, the team was able to detect and characterize material surrounding the Large Magellanic Cloud and confirm the existence of a corona. The spectra of quasars contain distinct signatures of carbon, oxygen and silicon, which make up the halo of hot plasma that surrounds this dwarf galaxy.

For billions of years, Big and SmallThe Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way's largest satellite galaxies, have been on dangerous journeys, astrophysicists say. They revolved around each other and gradually attracted to our Galaxy.

These processes were supposed to destroy the structuregalaxies and deprive them of sources of fuel for the formation of new stars, but this did not happen. The authors of the study note that the discovery of the corona finally answers the question of how dwarf galaxies managed to survive.

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