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Illustration of MS 0735.6+7421
(Credit: X-ray image: NASA/CXC/Ohio U./B.McNamara et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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MS 0735.6+7421
MS 0735.6+7421
(02 Nov 06)

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MS 0735.6+7421:
Most Powerful Eruption in the Universe Discovered


MS 0735.6+7421
Credit: NASA/CXC/Ohio U./B.McNamara

This Chandra image shows two vast cavities - each 600,000 light years in diameter - in the hot, X-ray emitting gas that pervades the galaxy cluster MS 0735.6+7421 (MS 0735 for short). Although the cavities contain very little hot gas, they are filled with a two-sided, elongated, magnetized bubble of extremely high-energy electrons that emit radio waves.

The cavities appear on opposite sides of a large galaxy at the center of the cluster, which indicates that a gigantic eruption produced by the galaxy's supermassive black hole created the structures. The magnitude of the eruption suggests that as a large amount of gas swirled rapidly toward the central black hole, it generated intense electromagnetic fields that ejected a fraction of the gas in the form of powerful jets of high-energy particles.

As these jets blasted through the galaxy into the surrounding multimillion degree intergalactic gas, they pushed the hot gas aside to create the cavities. The mass of the displaced gas equals about a trillion Suns, more than the mass of all the stars in the Milky Way.

Chandra has discovered evidence of similar outbursts in the form of other X-ray cavities in galaxy clusters, but the cavities in MS 0735 are easily the largest and most powerful. To create such an enormous eruption, the supermassive black hole must have swallowed about 300 million solar masses of gas over the last hundred million years.


Fast Facts for MS 0735.6+7421:
Credit  NASA/CXC/Ohio U./B.McNamara
Scale  Image is 4.2 arcmin per side.
Category  Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 07h 41m 50.20s | Dec +74° 14' 51.00"
Constellation  Camelopardalis
Observation Dates  November 30, 2003
Observation Time  13 hours
Obs. IDs  4197
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
References B. McNamara et al 2005, Nature
Distance Estimate  About 2.6 billion light years
Release Date  January 05, 2005