January 6, 2017

Colliding Galaxy Clusters & Eruption from a Supermassive Black Hole

Colliding Galaxy Clusters & Eruption from a Supermassive Black Hole

  • For the first time, two of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe have been clearly linked together in the same system.
  • An eruption from a supermassive black hole has been swept up into the collision between the galaxy clusters Abell 3411 and Abell 3412.
  • The result is an extraordinary acceleration of particles that explains mysterious swirling structures seen in radio data.
  • X-rays from Chandra were combined with several other telescopes to make this discovery.

Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other telescopes, astronomers have discovered a cosmic one-two punch unlike any ever seen in a pair of colliding galaxy clusters called Abell 3411 and Abell 3412. This result shows that an eruption from a supermassive black hole combined with a galaxy cluster merger can create a stupendous cosmic particle accelerator.

This composite image contains X-rays from Chandra (blue) that reveals diffuse emission from multi-million-degree gas in the two clusters. The comet-shaped appearance of the hot gas provides clear evidence that the two clusters are colliding and merging. The "head" of the comet is hot gas from one cluster plowing through the hot gas of the other cluster, in the direction shown by the arrow in the labeled image.

Radio emission detected by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India (red) represents colossal shock waves — cosmic versions of sonic booms generated by supersonic aircraft — produced by the collision of the hot gas associated with the galaxy clusters. Optical data from the Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, shows galaxies and stars with a range of different colors.

This new image also shows three different supermassive black holes in galaxies located in the merging clusters. The upper one shows that a jet powered by a supermassive black hole is connected to large swirls of radio emission. The team of astronomers thinks this connection provides important information about how the radio emission was produced.

This spinning, supermassive black hole is producing a rotating, tightly-wound magnetic funnel. The powerful electromagnetic fields associated with this structure have accelerated some of the inflowing gas away from the vicinity of the black hole in the form of an energetic, high-speed jet. Then, these accelerated particles in the jet were accelerated again when they encountered the shock waves from the galaxy cluster collision.

Jets from the two other supermassive black holes are likely having the same effect of accelerating particles before they get a second boost from the shock waves. The jets from one of the black holes are too short to be seen in the labeled image.

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/R. van Weeren et al; Optical: NAOJ/Subaru; Radio: NCRA/TIFR/GMRT
Explanation from: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2017/a3411/

1 comment:

  1. The galaxy is very interested for thinking. I like reading about it even I will never understand too much about it. :(