With as much mass as 10 billion suns, the large reservoir of gas spans about 300,000 light years and radiates at a temperature of more than 12.5 million degrees F.
This giant gas cloud, dubbed a "halo," surrounds two large spiral galaxies similar in size to the Milky Way, each with a supermassive black hole at its center, a release from Smithsonian's Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., which hosts the Chandra X-ray Center, said Tuesday.
The black holes are spiraling toward one another and may eventually merge to form a larger black hole, the scientists said.
A violent stirring of the surrounding gas caused by the merging of the galaxies had created a baby boom of new stars that has lasted for at least 200 million years, they said.
Chandra X-ray Observatory scientist say the collision offers the opportunity to witness a relatively nearby version of an event that was common in the early Universe when galaxies were much closer together and merged more often.