Pandora's Cluster — Clash of the Titans

The giant galaxy cluster appears to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate, smaller galaxy clusters. The crash took place over a span of 350 million years.

The galaxies in the cluster make up less than five percent of its mass. The gas (around 20 percent) is so hot that it shines only in X-rays (colored red in this image). The distribution of invisible dark matter (making up around 75 percent of the cluster's mass) is colored here in blue.

Dark matter does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, but it makes itself apparent through its gravitational attraction. To pinpoint the location of this elusive substance the team exploited a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This is the bending of light rays from distant galaxies as they pass through the gravitational field created by the cluster. The result is a series of telltale distortions in the images of galaxies in the background of the Hubble and VLT observations. By carefully analyzing the way that these images are distorted, it is possible to accurately map where the dark matter lies.

Chandra mapped the distribution of hot gas in the cluster.

The data suggest that the complex collision has separated out some of the hot gas (which interacts upon collision) and the dark matter (which does not) so that they now lie apart from each other, and from the visible galaxies. Near the core of the cluster there is a “bullet” shape where the gas of one cluster collided with that of another to create a shock wave. The dark matter passed through the collision unaffected.

In another part of the cluster, galaxies and dark matter can be found, but no hot gas. The gas may have been stripped away during the collision, leaving behind no more than a faint trail.

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Merten (Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, Heidelberg/Astronomical Observatory of Bologna), and D. Coe (STScI)

For images and more information, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news/2011/17
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1111
For additional information, contact:
Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4514
villard@stsci.edu
Oli Usher
Hubble/ESA, Garching, Germany
011-49-89-3200-6855
ousher@eso.org
Julian Merten
Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
Heidelberg, Germany
011-49-62-2154-8987
jmerten@ita.uni-heidelberg.de
Dan Coe
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4312
dcoe@stsci.edu
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages

the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

Media Contact

Ray Villard Newswise Science News

More Information:

http://www.stsci.edu

All latest news from the category: Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Method for automated type detection within lamp waste streams for recycling

EucoLight, the European Association of collection and recycling organisations for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) lamps and lighting, has carried out successfully a study with Fraunhofer IZM on the…

Aircraft in radio contact

TU Graz develops simulation tools for transponder occupancy. The simulation tool developed at the Institute of Microwave and Photonic Engineering shows the site-specific transponder occupancy caused by radar interrogations in…

Innovative drug delivery system offers hope for treating genetic diseases

A team of researchers led by Harvard and Broad Institute scientists has developed a new drug delivery system using engineered DNA-free virus-like particles (eVLPs) to package and deliver therapeutic levels…

Partners & Sponsors