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Giant shells around normal elliptical galaxies


Photographic enhancement of deep IIIaJ and IIIaF plates taken with the UK Schmidt and Anglo-Australian telescopes reveals the existence of giant ellipsoidal shells within and around the envelopes of several normal elliptical galaxies. The dimensions of these features are vast; they occur at radii of up to 180 kpc (assuming H0 = 50 km s−1 Mpc−1). We report here that these features probably consist of stars and are either the result of a burst of star formation initiated by a powerful shock wave in an intergalactic medium, perhaps during the formation of the galaxies, or are old stars displaced from the nucleus by an explosive event.

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Malin, D., Carter, D. Giant shells around normal elliptical galaxies. Nature 285, 643–645 (1980).

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