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Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Questions and Answers
Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Chandra Images
Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Animations & Video: Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
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Click for high-resolution animation
1. Images of Galaxy Cluster "Train Wreck"
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence of images of Abell 520 shows the aftermath of a complicated collision of galaxy clusters. Chandra detects multimillion degree gas that pervades the clusters (red). Optical telescopes can be used to infer the location of most of the matter in the cluster - dominated by dark matter - through its effects on distant galaxies (blue). Visible light data also reveal the starlight from the individual galaxies (yellow and orange). The composite image shows the chaotic aftermath of this collision between at least two clusters of galaxies.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UVic./A.Mahdavi et al.; Optical/Lensing: CFHT/UVic./A.Mahdavi et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

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2. Images of 3C438 and Surrounding Galaxy Cluster
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence of images shows how 3c438, the galaxy at the center of this cluster, looks in various types of light. The X-ray image shows a much different structure from the optical image, including a massive arc-like structure to the lower left. There are also hints of a cavity in the hot gas to the upper left. Jets seen in the radio image do not point in the same directions as the cavity structure, adding more mysteries about this system.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/R.P.Kraft; Optical: Pal.Obs. DSS; Radio: NRAO/VLA/A.H.Bridle & R.G.Strom))

Related Chandra Images:

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3. 3D Animation of Cluster Collision
QuicktimeMPEG This visualization shows how astronomers believe the "bullet cluster" was created and will continue to develop. Courtesy of John Wise of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.
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(KIPAC/John Wise)

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4. Tour of ESO 137
QuicktimeMPEG Two spectacular tails of X-ray emission have been seen trailing behind a galaxy known as ESO 137. This composite image shows X-rays from Chandra in blue, optical emission in yellow and emission from hydrogen light in red. The X-ray tails were created when cool gas from the galaxy (with a temperature of about ten degrees above absolute zero) was stripped by hot gas of about 100 million degrees as it travels through the center of the galaxy cluster. The stripping of this cool gas could be leading to new stars being formed in the tails behind the galaxy. This would be the first time such a thing had ever been seen.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UVa/M. Sun, et al; H-alpha/Optical: SOAR (UVa/NOAO/UNC/CNPq-Brazil)/M.Sun et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

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5. Tour of NGC 1399
QuicktimeMPEG Evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes in Chile suggest that a star has been torn apart by an intermediate-mass black hole. In this image, x-rays from Chandra are shown in blue and are overlaid on an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope in the galaxy known as NGC 1399. The Chandra observations show that one of these objects is a so-called ultraluminous x-ray source, or ULX. ULXs are an unusual class of objects. They emit more x-rays than any known star, but less than the bright x-ray sources associated with supermassive black holes. They may actually be an elusive middle-sized black hole that astronomers have been looking for. If confirmed, this latest discovery from Chandra would be a cosmic double-play. It would be strong evidence for this intermediate-mass black hole, and it would mark the first time such a black hole has been caught tearing apart an entire star.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J. Irwin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

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6. Tour of JKCS041
QuicktimeMPEG The most distant galaxy cluster yet has been found some 10.2 billion light-years from Earth. This record-breaking object is known as JKCS041, and is seen as it was when the Universe was just one quarter of its present age. This composite image of the object contains x-rays from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown as the blue, diffuse cloud, as well as optical and infrared data from ground-based telescopes. Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe held together by gravity. Scientists have calculated how quickly these clusters could start assembling after the Big Bang. And JKCS041 lies just inside that window. Future observations will provide scientists with an opportunity to learn about how the Universe evolved at this crucial stage.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/S.Andreon et al Optical: DSS; ESO/VLT)

Related Chandra Images:

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7. Tour of Hydra A
QuicktimeMPEG This composite image of the Hydra A galaxy cluster shows 10-million-degree gas observed by Chandra and jets of radio emission observed by the Very Large Array. The galaxies in the cluster are seen in optical light by two ground-based telescopes. At the center of Hydra A is a supermassive black hole that has experienced powerful outbursts. These outbursts pushed the material surrounding the black hole, creating giant cavities seen in the Chandra data. These cavities were then filled with material from jets seen in the radio data. The Chandra data reveal that the gas located along the direction of the radio jets is enhanced with iron and other metals. Scientists think that these elements, vital for stars, planets, and ultimately life, were forged in supernova explosions in the large galaxy at the center of the cluster.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Waterloo/C.Kirkpatrick et al.; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA; Optical: Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope/DSS)

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8. Tour of Stephan's Quintet
QuicktimeMPEG This beautiful image gives a new look at Stephan's Quintet, a compact group of galaxies discovered about 130 years ago and located about 280 million light years from Earth. A view in optical light from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea clearly shows four individual galaxies. A fifth, harder-to-see galaxy is plunging its way through the system at almost two million miles per hour. This extreme motion generates a shock wave that heats the gas between the galaxies. This in turn causes the gas to glow strongly in X-rays, and that's detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Stephan's Quintet provides a rare opportunity for astronomers to observe a group of galaxies in a crucial stage of its evolution.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/CfA/E.O'Sullivan); Optical (Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope/Coelum))

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9. Tour of MacsJ0717
QuicktimeMPEG This image contains one of the most complex galaxy clusters known, which is located about 5.4 billion light years from Earth. In this system known as MacsJ0717 for short, 4 separate galaxy clusters have collided. This is the first time such a complex crash of galaxy clusters has been documented. In this composite image, data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal the cluster's hot gas, while an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the individual galaxies in the system. The gas in this image is color-coded to show temperature, just like a weather map for Earth. In this case however, the temperatures range from millions to tens of millions of degrees, where the coolest gas here is colored red, the hottest gas is blue, and the temperatures in between are purple.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.))

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10. Tour of Medusa
QuicktimeMPEG NGC 4194 is a galaxy that is found about 110 million light years from Earth. This image of NGC 4194, also known as the Medusa galaxy, is a composite of X-rays from Chandra, seen in blue, and optical light data from Hubble, which are colored orange. Located above the center of the galaxy, the "hair" of Medusa is a tidal tail formed by a collision between galaxies. The bright X-ray source found on the left side of Medusa's hair is a black hole. A recent study of the Medusa galaxy and nine other galaxies measured the connection between the formation of stars and the production of so-called X-ray binaries. These systems, which contain either a black hole or a neutron star in orbit around a normal star, appear as the bright blue point-like sources in this image of Medusa.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Iowa/P.Kaaret et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/Univ of Iowa/P.Kaaret et al.)

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