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Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
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Abell 1795
Abell 1795
(04 Dec 00)
Centaurus Cluster:
Vast Hot Gas Plume May Be A Passing Attraction


Centaurus Cluster
Credit: NASA/IoA/J.Sanders & A.Fabian

The Chandra image of the Centaurus galaxy cluster shows a long plume-like feature resembling a twisted sheet. The plume is some 70,000 light years in length and has a temperature of about 10 million degrees Celsius. It is several million degrees cooler than the hot gas around it, as seen in this temperature-coded image in which the sequence red, yellow, green, blue indicates increasing gas temperatures. The cluster is about 170 million light years from Earth.

The plume contains a mass comparable to 1 billion suns. It may have formed by gas cooling from the cluster onto the moving target of the central galaxy, as seen by Chandra in the Abell 1795 cluster. Other possibilities are that the plume consists of debris stripped from a galaxy which fell into the cluster, or that it is gas pushed out of the center of the cluster by explosive activity in the central galaxy. A problem with these ideas is that the plume has the same concentration of heavy elements such as oxygen, silicon, and iron as the surrounding hot gas.

Fast Facts for Centaurus Cluster:
Credit  NASA/IoA/J.Sanders & A.Fabian
Scale  Image is 3 arcmin on a side.
Category  Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 12h 48m 48.7s | Dec -41° 18' 44"
Constellation  Centaurus
Observation Dates  May 22, 2000
Observation Time  9 hours
Obs. IDs  504
Color Code  Temperature
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  About 170 million light years
Release Date  January 29, 2002