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Q&A: Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, AGN, and Quasars

Q:
I was curious whether the X-ray telescope's designers anticipated its ability to capture images of sound waves (as in Perseus) and if the scientists were looking for these results when they requested the observation time?

A:
The designers of Chandra certainly knew that they would find objects and phenomena that they would not be able to even imagine as they were polishing the telescope mirrors. We don't think that anyone knew that these huge pressure waves would be seen or that they would be a way of transferring large quantities of energy in the universe. This was a surprise for everyone, including the British scientists who are analyzing this data.

The scientists did want to know why the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster was much cooler than it should be, but the potential answer, that huge pressure fronts (sound waves) carry the energy away, was a surprise. For more information, see the Chandra press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/press_release.html.

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