Over 100 galaxies seen spewing powerful winds that can halt star formation

Powerful winds that can heat and even drive away a galaxy’s gas — like a snow-plow separating fallen snow — have been observed spewing from over a hundred normal galaxies while changing the course of their evolution.

So-called galactic winds have been observed before, emanating from quasars, or “starburst” galaxies that are forming huge amounts of stars in a frenzy. One classic example is the starbursting Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82) in the constellation of Ursa Major, which can clearly be seen blowing huge filaments of gas out of its core. The winds can come from the radiation of many hot, massive stars, and are bolstered by the blast waves theses stars’ deaths when they explode as supernovas. The winds are made up of a torrent of charged particles, plus hot and cold gas dragged along for the ride.