Galactic Gales: Unraveling the Cosmic Winds Shaping Our Universe

Stellar Winds Regulate Galaxy Growth

Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, have discovered that galactic winds, which limit galaxy growth and star formation, are a universal phenomenon in galaxies over 7 billion years old. These winds, formed from massive star explosions, are difficult to detect due to their low density but were mapped using magnesium atom emission signals. Credit:

Researchers using the MUSE instrument have identified galactic winds in ancient galaxies, confirming their role in limiting galaxy growth. Future studies aim to measure these winds’ reach and matter content.

Galactic winds enable the exchange of matter between galaxies and their surroundings. In this way, they limit the growth of galaxies, that is, their star formation rate. Although this had already been observed in the local universe, an international research team led by a CNRS scientist [1] has just revealed—using MUSE,[2] an instrument integrated into the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope—the existence of the phenomenon in galaxies which are more than 7 billion years old and actively forming stars, the category to which most galaxies belong. The team’s findings, to be published in Nature today (December 6, 2023), thus show this is a universal process.

Stellar Winds Regulate Growth of Galaxies

The scientists were able to identify the morphology of galactic winds. In this figure, magnesium atom emissions have been used to trace galactic winds. The flow of matter occurs along the central axis perpendicular to the galactic disc. Credit: © Yucheng Guo

Galactic winds are created by the explosion of massive stars. As they are diffuse and of low density, they are usually hard to spot. To see them, the scientists combined images of more than a hundred galaxies obtained through very long exposure times. By studying magnesium atom emission signals, the team was also able to map the morphology of these winds, which appear as cones of matter perpendicularly ejected from both sides of the galactic plane.

In the future, the researchers hope to measure how far these winds extend and the quantity of matter they transport.


  1. The team’s leader is affiliated with the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University). Scientists from the Galaxies, Étoiles, Physique, Instrumentation (GEPI) (CNRS / Paris Observatory–PSL) research laboratory and multiple international research teams also participated.
  2. The Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) is operated by seven leading European research laboratories, including the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, which oversees MUSE activities.

Reference: “Bipolar outflows out to 10 kpc for massive galaxies at redshift z ≈ 1” by Yucheng Guo, Roland Bacon, Nicolas F. Bouché, Lutz Wisotzki, Joop Schaye, Jérémy Blaizot, Anne Verhamme, Sebastiano Cantalupo, Leindert A. Boogaard, Jarle Brinchmann, Maxime Cherrey, Haruka Kusakabe, Ivanna Langan, Floriane Leclercq, Jorryt Matthee, Léo Michel-Dansac, Ilane Schroetter and Martin Wendt, 6 December 2023, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06718-w

1 Comment on "Galactic Gales: Unraveling the Cosmic Winds Shaping Our Universe"

  1. Too much writing for me ….

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