Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

XMM-Newton probes formation of galaxy clusters

01.09.2005


ESA’s X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has for the first time allowed scientists to study in detail the formation history of galaxy clusters, not only with single arbitrarily selected objects, but with a complete representative sample of clusters.


XMM-Newton image of galaxy cluster RXCJ0658.5-5556


XMM-Newton image of galaxy cluster RXCJ2337.6+0016



Knowing how these massive objects formed is a key to understanding the past and future of the Universe. Scientists currently base their well-founded picture of cosmic evolution on a model of structure formation where small structures form first and these then make up larger astronomical objects.

Galaxy clusters are the largest and most recently formed objects in the known Universe, and they have many properties that make them great astrophysical ‘laboratories’. For example, they are important witnesses of the structure formation process and important ‘probes’ to test cosmological models.


To successfully test such cosmological models, we must have a good observational understanding of the dynamical structure of the individual galaxy clusters from representative cluster samples.

For example, we need to know how many clusters are well evolved. We also need to know which clusters have experienced a recent substantial gravitational accretion of mass, and which clusters are in a stage of collision and merging. In addition, a precise cluster mass measurement, performed with the same XMM-Newton data, is also a necessary prerequisite for quantitative cosmological studies.

The most easily visible part of galaxy clusters, i.e. the stars in all the galaxies, make up only a small fraction of the total of what makes up the cluster. Most of the observable matter of the cluster is composed of a hot gas (10-100 million degrees) trapped by the gravitational potential force of the cluster. This gas is completely invisible to human eyes, but because of its temperature, it is visible by its X-ray emission.

This is where XMM-Newton comes in. With its unprecedented photon-collecting power and capability of spatially resolved spectroscopy, XMM-Newton has enabled scientists to perform these studies so effectively that not only single objects, but also whole representative samples can be studied routinely.

XMM-Newton produces a combination of X-ray images (in different x-ray energy bands, which can be thought of as different X-ray ‘colours’), and makes spectroscopic measurements of different regions in the cluster.

While the image brightness gives information on the gas density in the cluster, the colours and spectra provide an indication of the cluster’s internal gas temperature. From the temperature and density distribution, the physically very important parameters of pressure and ‘entropy’ can be also derived. Entropy is a measure of the heating and cooling history of a physical system.

The accompanying three images illustrate the use of entropy distribution in the ‘X-ray luminous’ gas as a way of identifying various physical processes. Entropy has the unique property of decreasing with radiative cooling, increasing due to heating processes, but staying constant with compression or expansion under energy conservation.

The latter ensures that a ‘fossil record’ of any heating or cooling is kept even if the gas subsequently changes its pressure adiabatically (under energy conservation).

These examples are drawn from the REFLEX-DXL sample, a statistically complete sample of some of the most X-ray luminous clusters found in the ROSAT All-Sky Survey. ROSAT was an X-ray observatory developed in the 1990s in co-operation between Germany, USA and UK.

The images provide views of the entropy distribution coded in colour where the values increase from blue, green, yellow to red and white.

Norbert Schartel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMDW5A5QCE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht MSU astronomers discovered supermassive black hole in an ultracompact dwarf galaxy
14.08.2018 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht ASU astrophysicist helps discover that ultrahot planets have starlike atmospheres
13.08.2018 | Arizona State University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>