Composite image of MACSJ0717. Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.)

Researchers Describe ‘Most Spectacular and Most Disturbed’ Galaxy Cluster

16 Apr , 2009 by

Composite image of MACSJ0717. Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.)

It’s hot. It’s crowded. And it’s one of the most raucuous space parties astronomers have ever seen.

A research team using a combination of three powerful telescopes is spilling the beans on the galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745 (MACSJ0717 for short), located about 5.4 billion light years from Earth. The wild system contains four separate galaxy clusters undergoing a triple merger — the first time such a phenomenon has been documented — and that’s just the beginning. 

Galaxy clusters are the largest objects bound by gravity in the Universe. Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, astronomers were able to determine the three-dimensional geometry and motion in MACSJ0717.

Its 13-million-light-year-long stream of galaxies, gas and dark matter — known as a filament — is pouring into a region already full of galaxies. Like a freeway of cars emptying into a full parking lot, this flow of galaxies has caused one collision after another.

“In addition to this enormous pileup, MACSJ0717 is also remarkable because of its temperature,” said lead author Cheng-Jiun Ma, of the University of Hawaii. “Since each of these collisions releases energy in the form of heat, MACS0717 has one of the highest temperatures ever seen in such a system.”

While the filament leading into MACJ0717 had been previously discovered, these results show for the first time that it was the source of this galactic pummeling. The evidence is two-fold. First, by comparing the position of the gas and clusters of galaxies, the researchers tracked the direction of clusters’ motions, which matched the orientation of the filament in most cases. Secondly, the largest hot region in MACSJ0717 is where the filament intersects the cluster, suggesting ongoing impacts.

“MACSJ0717 shows how giant galaxy clusters interact with their environment on scales of many millions of light years,” said team member Harald Ebeling, also from the University of Hawaii. “This is a wonderful system for studying how clusters grow as material falls into them along filaments.”

Computer simulations show that the most massive galaxy clusters should grow in regions where large-scale filaments of intergalactic gas, galaxies, and dark matter intersect, and material falls inward along the filaments.

“It’s exciting that the data we get from MACSJ0717 appear to beautifully match the scenario depicted in the simulations,” said Ma.

In the future, Ma and his team hope to use even deeper X-ray data to measure the temperature of gas over the full 13-million-light-year extent of the filament. Much remains to be learned about the properties of hot gas in filaments and whether infall along these structures can significantly heat the gas in clusters over large scales.

“This is the most spectacular and most disturbed cluster I have ever seen,” says Ma, “and we think that we can learn a whole lot more from it about how structure in our Universe grows and evolves.”

The paper describing these results appeared in the March 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters

Source: Harvard University’s Chandra site. More information can be found at NASA’s Chandra site, and the paper is available here.


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DrFlimmer
Guest
DrFlimmer
April 16, 2009 8:40 AM

That’s cool, indeed.

But I want to add a note:

Those filaments are due to GRAVITY and nothing else….

Feenixx
Member
April 16, 2009 9:19 AM

DrFlimmer Says:
“Those filaments are due to GRAVITY and nothing else….”

how DO you know?
I suspect you might be trying to pick a fight with somebody else who “knows” they are due to something else… I think that’s what “trolling” means…
wink

Anyway, its a mighty impressive picture. I just gave up trying to count all those galaxies.

Olaf
Member
Olaf
April 16, 2009 9:38 AM

@Feenixx

“DrFlimmer Says:
“Those filaments are due to GRAVITY and nothing else….”

how DO you know?”

Because the FSM told us so! LOL

Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
April 16, 2009 10:01 AM
After studying Xray images of dozens of galaxy clusters (most by CXO or XMM), I’ve yet to see such a bizarre pattern as in MACSJ0717. The paper points out that this is the confluence of 4! galaxy clusters mixing it up (Thanks, Anne, for the link to the paper). Those downloading the highest-res optical images, especially the cropped image, will be able to make out numerous blue arcs in the vicinity of the densest portion of this amazing cluster. These represent distant galaxies lensed by the gravitational potential of the cluster(s) imaged by Hubble. Reference is made to a previously known galaxy ‘filament’ that was discovered in an earlier study. That paper, with some awesome imagery from the… Read more »
Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
April 16, 2009 10:04 AM

Whoops, by the time I hit the ‘Submit Comment’ button, a picture of the system appeared. Just one of those thingssmile

Total Science
Member
April 16, 2009 10:34 AM

F = G x m^1m^2/r^2

It is obvious just by looking at this picture that the Emperor has no clothes.

LOL @ gravitation.

GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 2:39 PM

Its obvious just by reading the above poster that the crank has no brain.

LOL @ the Troll

Oils, seriously, you should do standup comedy…you crack me up every time haha

GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 2:48 PM

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.” – George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

“He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.” – Sir William Drummond

“Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.” Thomas H. Huxley

GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 2:49 PM

OilIsMastery – EPIC Fail!

zibit
Guest
zibit
April 16, 2009 2:56 PM

Nice Quotes Joe!

Tjips
Guest
Tjips
April 16, 2009 3:15 PM

I have no idea why you guys are going on about the cause of galaxy filiments. The didn’t really form at all. they where already part of the mass distribution in the primordial universe. The only developed structure as time went by. (I’m of course talking about the well defined filiments.)

Total Science
Member
April 16, 2009 3:35 PM
Tjips, They are going on about the cause of electromagnetic plasma filaments because it’s obviously not gravitation. Gravitation is a 17th century creationist myth. “…to establish it [gravitation] as original or primitive in certain parts of matter is to resort either to miracle or an imaginary occult quality.” — Gottfreid W. Leibniz, polymath, July 1710 “Meanwhile remote operation has just been revived in England by the admirable Mr. Newton, who maintains that it is the nature of bodies to be attracted and gravitate one towards another, in proportion to the mass of each one, and the rays of attraction it receives. Accordingly the famous Mr. Locke, in his answer to Bishop Stillingfleet, declares that having seen Mr. Newton’s… Read more »
GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 3:42 PM

Tjips, – See what we are dealing with now?

Gravity is a creationist myth? LMAO!!!

GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 3:43 PM

OilIsMastery: FAIL!

gimme moar!

Total Science
Member
April 16, 2009 3:44 PM

Joe (if that’s your real name),

Gravitation is a creationist myth; gravity is electromagnetic: http://www.varchive.org/ce/cosmos.htm

Polaris93
Member
April 16, 2009 10:54 PM

In fact, gravity is nothing any creationists/intelligent designers came up with. See, e.g., http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=gravity+intelligent+design&aq=f — there’s a whole series of lectures linked there, which show that gravity and intelligent design/creationism contradict each other. BTW, Oills, when do you have your 14th birthday? Maybe we should throw a party for you. grin

GekkoNZ
Member
April 16, 2009 4:02 PM
No, Joe is not my real name. A creationist myth huh? Mate, ill beleive the overwhelming consensus from experts in the field over a couple of cranks any day. Ill beleive physical evidence and reasoned, logical development of Theory over illogical denial any day. I’ll believe knowledge gained by Science and the results from the Scientific Method over crackpot, unproven, illogical and unneeded theories any day. Do you actually think one link to one paper that hardly anybody has heard of, will make me deny that gravitation exists and is in fact explained away as electromagnetism? In light of the fact that the VAST majority of physicists and cosmologists do not accept that theory at all? ( oh… Read more »
Total Science
Member
April 16, 2009 4:09 PM

Joe,

“Mate, ill beleive the overwhelming consensus from experts in the field over a couple of cranks any day.”

If 50 million people believe a fallacy it’s still a fallacy.

“Ill beleive physical evidence and reasoned, logical development of Theory over illogical denial any day.”

What evidence and logic are you referring to? Newtonian theology?

“…lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other, he [God] hath placed those systems at immense distances from one another.” — Isaac Newton, mathematician, 1687

Total Science
Member
April 16, 2009 4:10 PM

Here is some more gravitational “logic” for you:

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” — Lord Kelvin, gravitational physicist, 1895

Olaf
Member
Olaf
April 16, 2009 4:10 PM

Joe The Sixpacker Says:

“Tjips, – See what we are dealing with now?
Gravity is a creationist myth? LMAO!!!”

Hey don’t laught!
Yesterday I saw Jezus on my toast, so that is proof enough that gravity does not exist! smile

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