The Galaxy Next Door May Be Blowing Giant Double Bubbles
Previously seen only around the Milky Way, balloon-like puffs that glow with gamma rays may also sandwich the nearby Andromeda galaxy.
More than 2.5 million light-years from Earth, the Andromeda galaxy is our Milky Way’s de facto twin. The two galaxies carry similar masses and swirl through space with graceful spiral arms.
And if three Russian astronomers are right, Andromeda also shares a surprising skill with the Milky Way: a talent for blowing giant bubbles that glow with gamma rays.
Until now these billowing lobes, nicknamed Fermi bubbles after the NASA telescope used to spot them, had only been seen coming from the Milky Way. And before the bubbles’ inadvertent discovery in 2010, few even suspected such odd cosmic structures existed.
Finding them coming from Andromeda could help scientists figure out how and why galaxies might form the strange twin puffs.