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A bent bridge between two galaxy clusters

Written by  Sunday, 10 May 2020 14:00
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Bridge between galaxy clusters in Abell 2384

A new study, based on data from ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatories, sheds new light on a three million light-year long bridge of hot gas linking two galaxy clusters, whose shape is being bent by the mighty activity of a nearby supermassive black hole.

The jet is so powerful that it is bending the shape of the gas bridge, which has a mass equivalent to about six trillion Suns. At the collision site, where the jet is pushing the hot gas in the bridge, astronomers found evidence for a shock front, similar to a sonic boom from a supersonic aircraft, which can keep the gas hot and prevent it from cooling to form new stars.

Objects like Abell 2384 are important for astronomers to understand the growth of galaxy clusters.

Computer simulations indicate that, after such a collision, galaxy clusters oscillate like a pendulum and pass through each other several times before merging to form a larger cluster. Based on these simulations, astronomers think that the two clusters in this system will eventually merge.

The study describing this work, led by Viral Parekh of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and Rhodes University, South Africa, was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in January.

More information in this Chandra photo release

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