A mysterious arc of light found behind a distant cluster of galaxies has turned out to be the biggest, brightest and hottest star-forming region ever seen in space.
Artist’s impression of the Lynx Arc
The so-called Lynx Arc is one million times brighter than the well-known Orion Nebula, a nearby prototypical starbirth region visible with small telescopes. The newly identified super-cluster contains a million blue-white stars that are twice as hot as similar stars in our Milky Way galaxy. It is a rarely glimpsed example of the early days of the Universe where furious firestorms of starbirth blazed across the skies. The spectacular clusters opulence is dimmed when seen from Earth only by the fact that it is 12 000 million light years away.
The discovery of this unique and tantalising object was the result of a systematic study of distant clusters of galaxies carried out with major X-ray, optical and infrared telescopes, including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ROSAT and the Keck Telescopes. Bob Fosbury, of the European Space Agencys Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility in Germany, and a team of international co-authors report the discovery in the 20 October 2003 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
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