The terms galactic corona and gaseous corona have been used in the first decade of the 21st century to describe a hot, ionised, gaseous component in the galactic halo of the Milky Way. A similar body of very hot and tenuous gas in the halo of any spiral galaxy may also be described by these terms.
The hypothetical source of the galactic halo of coronal gas may be the cumulative output of many “galactic fountains” in the galactic disc ejecting hot gas.
The hypothesis is that a single supernova and then its supernova remnant both produce hot ionized gas that supplies an individual “galactic fountain”. The expelled material forms a giant bubble of high-pressure, low density, hot gas in the denser, cooler gas and dust of the galactic disc. At least some of those bubbles extend high or low enough, vertically, to pierce through the denser disk, and form “chimneys” which exhaust the hot gas into the halo, analogous to a terrestrial geyser spewing out water and steam that is much hotter and much less dense than the surrounding earth, heated by a source hidden deep below.
As the expelled gas in the galactic corona cools, it falls back into the galactic disc, guided by the disc's own gravitational attraction, enriching the gas and dust in the disc with the heavy elements (loosely termed “metals” by astronomers) which were produced in supernova precursors, and during supernova explosions.
Galactic coronas have been and are currently being studied extensively, in the hope of gaining a further understanding of galaxy formation.However, considering how galaxies differ in shape and size, no particular theory has been able to adequately explain how all galactic coronas are formed and maintained.
The study of galaxy formation and evolution is concerned with the processes that formed a heterogeneous universe from a homogeneous beginning, the formation of the first galaxies, the way galaxies change over time, and the processes that have generated the variety of structures observed in nearby galaxies. Galaxy formation is hypothesized to occur from structure formation theories, as a result of tiny quantum fluctuations in the aftermath of the Big Bang. The simplest model in general agreement with observed phenomena is the Lambda-CDM model—that is, that clustering and merging allows galaxies to accumulate mass, determining both their shape and structure.
A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias (γαλαξίας), literally "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass.
A molecular cloud, sometimes called a stellar nursery (if star formation is occurring within), is a type of interstellar cloud, the density and size of which permit the formation of molecules, most commonly molecular hydrogen (H2). This is in contrast to other areas of the interstellar medium that contain predominantly ionized gas.
Spiral galaxies form a class of galaxy originally described by Edwin Hubble in his 1936 work The Realm of the Nebulae and, as such, form part of the Hubble sequence. Most spiral galaxies consist of a flat, rotating disk containing stars, gas and dust, and a central concentration of stars known as the bulge. These are often surrounded by a much fainter halo of stars, many of which reside in globular clusters.
In physical cosmology, a protogalaxy, which could also be called a "primeval galaxy", is a cloud of gas which is forming into a galaxy. It is believed that the rate of star formation during this period of galactic evolution will determine whether a galaxy is a spiral or elliptical galaxy; a slower star formation tends to produce a spiral galaxy. The smaller clumps of gas in a protogalaxy form into stars.
In astronomy, a galactic bulge is a tightly packed group of stars within a larger star formation. The term almost exclusively refers to the central group of stars found in most spiral galaxies. Bulges were historically thought to be elliptical galaxies that happened to have a disk of stars around them, but high-resolution images using the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed that many bulges lie at the heart of a spiral galaxy. It is now thought that there are at least two types of bulges: bulges that are like ellipticals and bulges that are like spiral galaxies.
NGC 4631 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. This galaxy's slightly distorted wedge shape gives it the appearance of a herring or a whale, hence its nickname. Because this nearby galaxy is seen edge-on from Earth, professional astronomers observe this galaxy to better understand the gas and stars located outside the plane of the galaxy.
The Local Bubble, or Local Cavity, is a relative cavity in the interstellar medium (ISM) of the Orion Arm in the Milky Way. It contains the closest of celestial neighbours and among others, the Local Interstellar Cloud, the neighbouring G-Cloud, Ursa Major Moving Group and the Hyades. It is at least 300 light years across, and is defined by its neutral-hydrogen density of about 0.05 atoms/cm3, or approximately one tenth of the average for the ISM in the Milky Way (0.5 atoms/cm3), and one sixth that of the Local Interstellar Cloud (0.3 atoms/cm3).
A galactic halo is an extended, roughly spherical component of a galaxy which extends beyond the main, visible component. Several distinct components of galaxies comprise the halo:
Messier 96 is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 31 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.
Messier 108 is a barred spiral galaxy in the northern constellation Ursa Major. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781 or 1782. From the Earth, this galaxy is seen almost edge-on.
A superbubble or supershell is a cavity which is hundreds of light years across and is populated with hot (106 K) gas atoms, less dense than the surrounding interstellar medium, blown against that medium and carved out by multiple supernovae and stellar winds. The winds, passage and gravity of newly born stars strip superbubbles of any other dust or gas. The Solar System lies near the center of an old superbubble, known as the Local Bubble, whose boundaries can be traced by a sudden rise in dust extinction of exterior stars at distances greater than a few hundred light years.
The Milky Way is the galaxy that includes our Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy's appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. The term Milky Way is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλακτικός κύκλος. From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.
Galaxy mergers can occur when two galaxies collide. They are the most violent type of galaxy interaction. The gravitational interactions between galaxies and the friction between the gas and dust have major effects on the galaxies involved. The exact effects of such mergers depend on a wide variety of parameters such as collision angles, speeds, and relative size/composition, and are currently an extremely active area of research. Galaxy mergers are important because the merger rate is a fundamental measurement of galaxy evolution. The merger rate also provides astronomers with clues about how galaxies bulked up over time.
NCG 5204 is a Magellanic spiral galaxy located about 14.5 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ursa Major and is a member of the M101 Group of galaxies. It has a galaxy morphological classification of SA(s)m and is highly irregular, with only the barest indication of any spiral arm structure. The galaxy's most prominent feature is an extremely powerful X-ray source designated NGC 5204 X-1. This has resulted in the galaxy being the target of several studies due to the strength of the source and its relative proximity to Earth.
High-velocity clouds (HVCs) are large collections of gas found throughout the galactic halo of the Milky Way. Their bulk motions in the local standard of rest have velocities which are measured in excess of 70–90 km s−1. These clouds of gas can be massive in size, some on the order of millions of times the mass of the Sun, and cover large portions of the sky. They have been observed in the Milky Way's halo and within other nearby galaxies.
In astrobiology and planetary astrophysics, the galactic habitable zone is the region of a galaxy in which life might most likely develop. The concept of a galactic habitable zone analyzes various factors, such as metallicity and the rate and density of major catastrophes such as supernovae, and uses these to calculate which regions of a galaxy are more likely to form terrestrial planets, initially develop simple life, and provide a suitable environment for this life to evolve and advance. According to research published in August 2015, very large galaxies may favor the birth and development of habitable planets more than smaller galaxies such as the Milky Way. In the case of the Milky Way, its galactic habitable zone is commonly believed to be an annulus with an outer radius of about 10 kiloparsecs (33,000 ly) and an inner radius close to the Galactic Center.
NGC 4636 is an elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Virgo. It is located at a distance of circa 55 million light years from Earth, which, given its apparent dimensions, means that NGC 4636 is about 105,000 light years across. It was discovered by William Herschel on February 23, 1784. NGC 4636 lies one and a half degrees southwest of Delta Virginis. It can be viewed through a telescope at a ×23 magnification as a bright oval glow. It is part of the Herschel 400 Catalogue.
NGC 4302 is an edge-on spiral galaxy located about 55 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices. It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel on April 8, 1784 and is a member of the Virgo Cluster.