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Recent Podcast
Tour: NASA's Chandra Opens Treasure Trove of Cosmic Delights
Tour: NASA's Chandra Opens Treasure Trove of Cosmic Delights
Humanity has "eyes" that can detect all different types of light through telescopes around the globe and a fleet of observatories in space. From radio waves to gamma rays, this multiwavelength approach to astronomy is crucial to getting a complete understanding of objects in space. (2020-09-02)


A Tour of Bending the Bridge Between Two Galaxy Clusters

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Several hundred million years ago, two galaxy clusters collided and then passed through each other. This mighty event released a flood of hot gas from each galaxy cluster that formed an unusual bridge between the two objects. This bridge is now being pummeled by particles driven away from a supermassive black hole.

Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe held together by gravity. They contain hundreds or thousands of galaxies, vast amounts of multi-million-degree gas that glow in X-rays, and enormous reservoirs of unseen dark matter.

A new image containing different kinds of light reveals the giant structures that can result when two galaxy clusters collide. This view of Abell 2384 has X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton, as well as radio data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey. This new view reveals the effects of a jet shooting away from a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy in one of the clusters. The jet is so powerful that it is bending the shape of the gas bridge, which extends for over 3 million light years and has the mass of about 6 trillion Suns.

Over its more than two decades in space, Chandra has often observed cavities in hot gas created by jets in the centers of galaxy clusters, such as the Perseus cluster, MS 0735 and the Ophiuchus Cluster. However, Abell 2384 offers a rare case of such an interaction occurring in the outer region of a cluster. It is also unusual that the supermassive black hole driving the jet is not in the largest galaxy located in the center of the cluster. Astronomers consider objects like Abell 2384 to be important for understanding the growth of galaxy clusters.

Astronomers are interested in these kinds of encounters because they may help explain how black holes of this size grow over time.

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