Collision of giant galaxy clusters yields colorful image

By Brooks Hays  |  Nov. 7, 2017 at 3:16 PM
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Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A new image released by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory showcases the intense radio emissions triggered by the collision of several giant galaxy clusters.

The cosmic collision triggered shockwaves and released massive amounts of energy, heating up gas and dust across a region of space several million light-years wide.

The massive galaxy cluster is named Abell 2744, or Pandora's Cluster. It's located 4 billion light-years from Earth.

The newly released image is a composite of observations made by several instruments. Scientists combined new data collected by the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array with older data recorded by NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory.

The renderings of Abell 2744's radio wave and X-ray emissions are overlaid on a visible light composite image of the super cluster captured by the Subaru telescope and the Very Large Telescope.

Thanks to the newest VLA data, astronomers were able to spot previously undetected areas of space where shockwaves have excited subatomic particles and triggered radio emissions.

Pandora's Cluster was formed by a series of collisions between galaxy clusters over the course of some 350 million years. Researchers hope the latest image can help them better understand the timeline of collisions that yielded the super cluster.

The latest analysis -- detailed in the Astrophysical Journal -- suggests the super cluster is made up of a collision oriented along a north-south axis and another another along an east-west axis. Scientists believe there was a third major collision, but are still trying to tease out its signature in the latest renderings.

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