Galaxy clusters are made up of hundreds to thousands of galaxies held together by gravity, yet the visible mass of these galaxies accounts for only a fraction of this attraction. The remainder is attributed to two sources: the intracluster medium (ICM), a superheated plasma detectable via X-ray emissions, and a hypothesized “dark matter” measureable only via its gravitational effects.
The researchers studied the ICM of galaxy cluster Abell 1689 using Suzaku, a powerful X-ray astronomical satellite developed in Japan, which they compared with observational data from the U.S. Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). /Suzaku/’s high sensitivity enabled them to probe well beyond the range of conventional detectors, to an area at the outskirts of the ICM with a plasma temperature of 23 million degrees, within which they discovered a high-temperature region reaching some 60 million degrees.
Extending outward from this high-temperature region, the researchers identified a large-scale filamentary structure of galaxies, and determined that it is a shock wave produced by the collision of cold gas from this filament with the galaxy cluster that heats the ICM. Combined with a gravitational lensing study using Japan's Subaru Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, the results provide a detailed picture, described in the April 9th issue of The Astrophysical Journal, of how cluster growth is affected by the large-scale structure of the surrounding universe.
For more information, please contact:Dr. Madoka Kawaharada
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