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Researchers Describe ‘Most Spectacular and Most Disturbed’ Galaxy Cluster

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

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Olaf April 17, 2009, 5:20 PM

    AND Says:
    “That said Oils is like a brick wall. Nothing gets through.”

    I agree ND, but that is not important.
    I have no desire to convert him or let him to see the light. But he is an interesting praktice target to actually test my own understanding of the universe.

    It would be foolish to believe that the standard model is perfect, so it should be tested with wierd stuff thrown at it.

    Did you know that I also test the EU proponents by making mistakes just to see if they actually detect that I told something wrong? It is very clear that they have no understanding of their own theories except for the buzzewords and technobable.

  • Olaf April 17, 2009, 5:39 PM

    @oils:
    “Opposite electric charges repel. So when you put your foot to the ground, the electrons in your foot and the electrons on the surface repel eachother, thus creating inertia.” (corrected to like charges repel)

    You mean ALL electrions in ALL the universe including the electrons in you food AND electrons in the ground repell each other with a net result of ZERO!

    And if you have some basic knowlede of elctronics, ONLY the electrons that are free floating will repell each other, all those that are bound to an atom will NOT repell at all!

    This is how a capacitor works, by forcing too many electrons to one side of the capacitior resulting the electric field to push away all other electrons at the other side of the capacitor.

    Also this inertia with electrins does not make sence, if my foot is conducting all my free electrons will immediately move to the ground.

    But if if my foot was perfectly isolated and the electric field of electrons are repelling my foot, then because it is perfectly iolated all my electrons in my foot should stay there and my foot would start to float!

    But again Oils is showing that he has no understanding of his own EU theory since it is not the static force that creates the inertia, but the very fact that the subtronics orbit gets deformed because an magnetic field creating a static dipole that looks like a static magnet where the plus side attracts the negative side of the electron AND THE proton and even a neutron! yes it is a waco theory once you dig deeper into it, but that is what they EU clames!

  • Ryan April 17, 2009, 8:08 PM

    I have no desire to convert him or let him to see the light. But he is an interesting praktice target to actually test my own understanding of the universe.

    This is the exact opposite the way I feel about him. He rarely bring anything coherent to the table unless he quoted it, and even when he does it is the kind of stuff a middle schooler could refute.

    Explaining why he is wrong feels like a waste of time for me. I’m not a big EU fan but sometimes people here bring up things that prompt me to seek an answer or to critically examine what I’ve read in the past. The short way of saying it would be; it’s interesting with a chance of productivity.

  • Ryan April 17, 2009, 8:09 PM

    Sorry, forgot to close my italic quote brackets!

  • DrFlimmer April 18, 2009, 3:11 AM

    @ OIM

    And still your DvD-player is running, although noone knows about the current state of its photons to read the DvD?

    @ solrey

    Once it is established that near 0 K plasma can exist,

    Well, as much as I have read from your link, this seems to be impossible in space.
    Consider at first that it would be possible for atoms to reach a near-0K-state in space. The link says that there is need of another laser to push the electrons away from the proton. Where should this laser (an energy source!) come from in space? A 0K-hydogen will not give away its electron just because it likes to, you still need an energy source!
    Second: There is still something outside we call the “Microwave Background”. Since it is SO uniform and isotropic, the assumption that it “comes” from everywhere holds. It doesn’t really matter what causes this radiation. The main fact is that is a THERMAL spectrum (the best we ever detected!!). This means, it belongs to a temperature. And since this radiation is everywhere the same, it means that the universe has a mean temperature of about 2,7K. Nothing can become colder than that in space (it is possible on earth, but (although seeming counterproductive) with great need of energy).

    then space would be an infinite volume of tenuous, inhomogenous plasma.

    Infinite space and probably infinite time. Is this really easier to comprehend than a beginning with a moment without a previous one?
    But this is not the real argument. Have you ever heard of “Olbers’ Paradox” ?
    Olbers’ Paradox is the simple question: Why is it dark at night?
    Assuming infinite space and infinite time. That would lead to an infinite number of galaxies and that would mean that in every solid angle there is also an infinite (probably smaller than the “infinite” from before – yes, infinity is not always the same, ask mathematicians…) number of galaxies. Since we have an infinite time already gone by, photons of even the most dinstant galaxies should have reached us by now. This in turn means that from everywhere, and really from everywhere, an infinite number of photons should hit us. Thus: The nightsky couldn’t be dark, it should be extreamly bright – BUT IT IS NOT.
    So, taking the steps back, this means: No infinite time, since at least some photons cannot have reached us. That means that there HAD to be a beginning and I think it is unreasonable that the universe “started” with infinite space.
    Conclusion: The solution of Olbers’ Paradox is the Big Bang (even the expansion is needed). Check the Wikipedia article if you want a more detailed explanation.

    magnetic fields created induce their own particle movement, creating their own magnetic fields…etc.

    Be careful with this one. Only changing magnetic fields induce currents. AND those corrents always try to counter their cause, thus the magnetic field will be weakend (Lenz’s law).

    As long as the cosmic medium remains in the plasma state, it will maintain charged particle movement and magnetic fields.

    Indeed, it sounds like perpetual motion.

    Admittedly none of the following links prove that the cosmic medium can remain in an ionized state, there is evidence that this is very probable

    Ever heard of the 21cm-line? It is a flip in the groundstate of hydrogen-atoms, the electron (or is it the proton? I don’t know exactly at the moment, but it’s not so important) changes it’s spin direction. This is a clear sign of neutral hydrogen in space. And guess what? We observe LARGE clouds of neutral hydrogen in galaxies. We can even use them to measure the rotational curve of the galaxy, which is independent of the motion of the stars. And what is the result? LARGE NEUTRAL clouds are moving exactly the same way as the stars. I don’t think that EU can explain this little fact. Neutral clouds are not effected by em-forces – so what other force can push the clouds around? Gravitation is the only one. An independent hint for dark matter.

    I’m also thinking of the way water is, essentially, constantly self-ionizing.

    What? Water is a polar molecule (which is good, since otherwise it would not be liquid at “room temperature”), but not ionized.

  • solrey April 18, 2009, 10:13 PM

    @drflimmer

    A few quotes regarding the auto-ionization of water.

    “Water, however pure, is not a simple collection of H2O molecules. Even in “pure” water, sensitive equipment can detect a very slight electrical conductivity of 0.055 µS·cm-1. According to the theories of Svante Arrhenius, this must be due to the presence of ions.”

    “The resulting equilibrium constant is called the ionization constant, dissociation constant, or self-ionization constant, or ion product of water and is symbolized by Kw.”

    “Removal of all ions from water is next to impossible, since water self-ionizes quickly to reach equilibrium.”

    “Because of the autoionization of water, the concentration of H3O+ and the concentration of OH– are inversely related in any aqueous solution.”

    The comment about ultra-cold plasma was not intended as unequivocal proof that it exists in space. The research being conducted on ultra-cold plasma indicates that further studies relating to cosmic plasma is justified.

    “Electrons in a spherical ultracold, quasi-neutral plasma at temperature in the Kelvin range can be created by laser excitation of an ultracold, laser-cooled atomic cloud. The dynamical behaviour of the electrons is similar to the one described by conventional models of star cluster dynamics. The single mass component, the spherical symmetry and no star evolution are here accurate assumptions. The analogue of binary star formations in the cluster case is a three-body recombination in Rydberg atoms in the plasma case with the same Heggie’s law: soft binaries get softer and hard binaries get harder. We demonstrate that the evolution of such an ultracold plasma is dominated by Fokker–Planck kinetics equations formally identical to the ones controlling the evolution of a star cluster. The Virial theorem leads to a link between the plasma temperature and the ions and electron numbers. The Fokker–Planck equation is approximate using gaseous and fluid models. We found that the electrons are in a Kramers–Michie–King type quasi-equilibrium distribution as stars in clusters. We suggest that the evaporation rate can be used to determine the temperature. As an example, knowing the electron distribution and using forced fast electron extraction, in a ‘violent extraction’ way, we are able to determine the plasma temperature knowing the trapping potential depth.
    Accepted 2005 May 30. Received 2005 May 21; in original form 2005 January 5″

    “Radu Balescu writes in his book, Aspects of Anomalous Transport in Plasmas,:
    Plasma is often called the “fourth state of matter”, assuming that solid, liquid and gas are, respectively the first, second and third state. If however, the criterion of classification is changed, plasma should be called the “first state of matter”, given that more than 99% of matter in the universe is in the plasma state. This trivial remark underlies the importance of plasma physics.”

    The CMBR is Anisotropic, btw.

    “Analyses of recent cosmic microwave background (CMB) observations have provided increasing indications for the existence of large scale anisotropy in the universe.”

    “Dr. Gerrit Verschuur, Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Memphis, has noticed a disturbing correlation between the small-scale structures in the Cosmic Background Radiation (CMB) and data from his All Sky Survey of Interstellar Neutral Hydrogen (HI.)
    The Nobel Winning COBE and it’s successor, WMAP were designed to detect faint variations in the CMB signals left over from the Big Bang. The age and composition of the Universe has been predicted from the small-scale structure observed in this data.
    However, if even a small fraction of the anisotropy can be associated with structure in the Milky Way, the cosmological interpretations of the data could be called into question.
    Verschuur, a pioneer in the science of radio astronomy, has been studying the properties of the Milky Way using interstellar HI for almost 50 years. According to his recent work, it appears that many of the small-scale structures observed by WMAP are correlated with HI.
    If confirmed, Verschuur’s discovery means that the structure superimposed on the CMB is produced in the Milky Way and does not have a cosmic origin. Thus the CMB signal from the early universe may be smoother than anyone expected, which raises new questions as to how structure ever emerged in the Universe to create galaxies.”

    IMO, it’s because we’re close to the Birkeland current “transmission lines”, within our galaxy, that we see this overlaying structure from our galaxy, but since we’re far from the surrounding, intergalactic transmission lines, the background signal becomes diffused, or closer to isotropic.

  • solrey April 18, 2009, 10:27 PM

    Verschurr reminds me of Arp. An honest scientist who stumbled into information that brings the “accepted” theory into question.

    Sometimes we just can’t see the forest for the trees.

  • DrFlimmer April 19, 2009, 3:16 AM

    @ solrey

    The CMBR is Anisotropic, btw.

    We are talking about 10^-5K (if I remember correctly). I consider this to be highly isotropic.
    And again: It is a thermal spectrum. How is the HI related to it? It must by thermal radiation, otherwise the spectrum would look different. That in turn means that the galactic HI has to have a temperature of about 3K. The coolest clouds I know of have about 20K.

    It could also be coincedental, just like Arp’s theory. Arp’s idea has been discussed in the 90ies, until we found with better data that it was just a matter of statistics.

    Anyway, Planck is due to launch next month. We will see!

  • DrFlimmer April 19, 2009, 3:45 AM

    A few more notes:

    “Because of the autoionization of water, the concentration of H3O+ and the concentration of OH– are inversely related in any aqueous solution.”

    Ok, if I have known that I forgot about it. But you will not tell me that water is a plasma, will you?

    “Electrons in a spherical ultracold, quasi-neutral plasma at temperature in the Kelvin range [...] we are able to determine the plasma temperature knowing the trapping potential depth.

    The star cluster is used as an analogy. It does not mean that it is “the same” or that one thing can be used to explain the other. That is, how I see the abstract.

    Plasma is often called the “fourth state of matter”, assuming that solid, liquid and gas are, respectively the first, second and third state. If however, the criterion of classification is changed, plasma should be called the “first state of matter”, given that more than 99% of matter in the universe is in the plasma state. This trivial remark underlies the importance of plasma physics.

    And this tells us exactly what? This is nitpicking and not an argument.

    IMO, it’s because we’re close to the Birkeland current “transmission lines”, within our galaxy, that we see this overlaying structure from our galaxy, but since we’re far from the surrounding, intergalactic transmission lines, the background signal becomes diffused, or closer to isotropic.

    Are you talking about “flux tubes”?
    Btw: gyrating charged particles produce cyclotron or synchrotron radiation. But they will never ever produce a thermal spectrum. Your Birkeland currents cannot account for the CMB!

  • DrFlimmer April 19, 2009, 3:50 AM

    Ah, and I forgot:

    We don’t only find neutral hydrogen in space, we also find big molecules (some form of acids and alcohols, e.g.). This would violate a “self-ionizing” mechanism in space. There is also a big portion of dust out there.

    I beg you for answering this question:
    How is it possible that large neutral clouds move around in galaxies with the same velocity as the stars?

  • Lawrence B. Crowell April 19, 2009, 6:24 AM

    It is strange that Newton’s laws and gravity are being called a “creation myth” by OIM. It is interesting how we are able to get robots on the surface of Mars and exporation craft around Juipter and Saturn with this “myth.”

    This observation is likely to provide some information on how dark matter and ordinary matter interact. The DM is gravitationally influencing the system, while luminous matter is interacting via EM (and yes as a diffuse plasma) giving distinct signatures which depart from the gravity lensing by the DM. This might be thought of as the Bullet galaxy collision , where instead of it being a two-some, this more like a party.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • Jon Hanford April 19, 2009, 7:27 AM

    @ lbc: And what a party! Continuing observations at many wavelengths will shed some light on the dynamics & physics of a bona fide filament (i.e. DM distribution, mechanics of a four cluster collision, relative mass contributions, etc.). Filaments of galaxies, gas (& presumably DM) have been observed by astronomers (6dF, 2dF, etc) and predicted theoretically (Millenium Galaxy Simulation and others). Detailed research (both observational and theoretical) on filaments and voids in the cosmos is in its infancy, so the next few years should provide a more informed consensus of the structure and dynamics of filaments and what really abounds in these cosmic voids.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb April 19, 2009, 9:50 AM

    Solrey said;
    “A few quotes regarding the auto-ionization of water.
    “Water, however pure, is not a simple collection of H2O molecules. Even in “pure” water, sensitive equipment can detect a very slight electrical conductivity of 0.055 µS·cm-1. According to the theories of Svante Arrhenius, this must be due to the presence of ions.”
    Clear you know little about chemistry, and to quote such a thing is frankly irrelevant and completely misleading.
    Dissociation is theoretically caused in all solutions, where there is a small probability in molecules exchanging between ionic states – based on a small temporary transference of electrons. The ability to change these ionic states produces the equilibrium constant, which varies between solutions. But where are these solutions in space or celestial objects?
    Really this has absolutely nothing to do with plasmas nor magnetic fields. A solution may conduct electricity – but it has nothing to do with EU at all. As for “self-ionizing” – the misnomer – and you know it. Such term are just used as an illusional trick to fool the casual reader, whose term sound like it is from the EU lot. IDISSOCIATION, and is actually chemical term to describe the behaviour of solutions. No more no less.

    It seems all this is inversion from the topic at hand, unless you are stupid enough to admit water is in fact plasma.
    It is totally irrelevant to EU!

    As for 99% of the universe being in a plasma, well actually that is pure idol speculation – especially on the way you loose define and bandy around the term. Most of the plasma in fact exists within stars, and any in space has rarely been proven except with the quite rare exotic or dynamic phenomena. There is absolutely no evidence to show plasma exists throughout space – and it is likely to remain that way for sometime. You sound very much like the druggy and veronal addicted Birkeland who speculated such an ideas, without real prove nor evidence – except for stumbling evidence of his observation of aurorae. (Pity it is 2008 and not 1900, because EU’ers remain stuck there in the past!)
    As a general warning. Be very care quoting chemistry here, because I will simply tear you to little pieces. Others may be fooled, but you won’t be able to
    get past me.

  • Jon Hanford April 20, 2009, 6:44 AM

    @ solrey: As Astrofiend has asked before, where are the peer-reviewed published papers with predictions of the precise spectrum and size/distribution of the anisotropies in the CMBR Planck will measure? I’ve read or noted dozens of peer-reviewed published papers predicting what Planck will find based on the predictions or extensions of the Standard Model? What about papers by EU ‘scientists’ on the nature of the anisotropies detected by WMAP? Or papers predicting the anisotropies WMAP (pre-launch) will observe? I can’t seem to be able to find any peer-reviewed papers by EU ‘scientists’ addressing these questions directly. Do you have any links to papers regarding EU theory or predictions involving Planck or WMAP?

  • DrFlimmer April 20, 2009, 11:11 AM

    @ solreay:

    Where are you? There are many questions waiting to be answered by you.

  • ND April 20, 2009, 12:06 PM

    I’d also like to know how much neutrinos the EU/PC models expect to come from the sun given their take on nuclear fusion in (on?) the Sun.

    Unfortunately I might be around to read any answers for a while.

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