A colossal "superwind" is blowing all across this galaxy

Illustration for article titled A colossal superwind is blowing all across this galaxy

Galaxy M82 isn't just having kind of a blustery day — thanks to a recent near-collision with another galaxy, all its massive stars and supernovas are combining to create a massive galaxy-wide superwind. The result is that huge haze of red gas.

All star systems create what's known as solar wind, which is the stream of charged particles emitted from the outer atmospheres of stars. In M82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, the solar winds have combined to create one massive outflow of charged particles, which is known as a superwind. You can see all this galactic tumult in the photo up top, courtesy of the Hubble telescope. You can also click to expand for a much larger look at what's going on.

The Cigar Galaxy recently entered a chaotic period after it passed very close to nearby galaxy M81, and now this galaxy is pumping out huge quantities of ionized hydrogen gas, which glows red in this photo. These hydrogen filaments are about 10,000 light-years across. All this chaos in the Cigar Galaxy, which is about 12 million light-years away, has helped make it the brightest object in the sky when viewed in infrared wavelengths.


Via NASA. For more on superwinds, go here.

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Yankton, née Spacemonkey Mafia

Congratulations! Just the title of this article has created the band name, album title and concept for a new 70's Prog rock band.

I look forward to seeing Superwind's "Blowing Across the Galaxy" tour with you this summer at the State Fair.