Friday , October 22 2021

NASA image of galaxy cluster merger looks suspiciously like USS Enterprise


Image: NASA / CXC / Leiden Univ./F. de Gasperin et al; Optical: SDSS; Radio: LOFAR / ASTRON, NCRA / TIFR / GMRT (NASA)

Man's current understanding of physics can suggest that faster than easier journeys are impossible, but scientists on earth can still observe happening in places that are too far away to ever be able to visit (and generally only what they saw in the distant past ). One of them is a galactic collision that, at least from our planet's point of view, looks very much like a boat where nobody has ever gone before.

NASA released the above composite image of the galaxy club Abell 1033 about 1.62 billion light years away this week, showing wisps of gas that appear to be arranged in the form of Star TrekS USS Enterprise. NASA wrote that the image was captured by Chandra X-ray Observatory, an X-ray scoop that detects superheated gases, as well as Low-Frequency Array, which detects radio emissions.

The image can look calm, but it is the result of a cosmic phenomenon that releases incredible amounts of energy. Galaxy clusters are collections of galaxies which are the largest known entities held together by gravity forces, which contain both the galaxies themselves and a much larger amount of superheated gas. Per NASA, Abell 1033 is actually two galaxies clashing into each other and producing "turbulence and shock waves". NASA added that the two clusters interact with a super-massive black hole that produces high-speed particles that appear as radio emissions:

In Abell 1033, the collision has collaborated with another energetic cosmic process – producing high-speed particles of rays through matter that sprouts into a super-massive black hole, in this case one in a galaxy in one of the clusters. These rays are revealed by radio emissions on the left and right sides of the image. The radio emission is produced by electrons that spiral around magnetic field lines, a process called synchrotron emissions.

The electrons in the rays travel very close to the speed of light. When the galaxy and its black holes moved toward the lower part of the image, the beam was lowered to the right when it crashed into hot gas in the second galaxy cluster. The jet to the left did not slow down because it encountered much less hot gas, which gave an oblique appearance to the rays, rather than the straight line usually seen.

NASA added that the radio emissions that originate from the divide would normally lose a lot of their energy when radiating, becoming undetectable, although the "greatly expanded radio emission observed in Abell 1033 extends over 500,000 light years, means that energetic electrons are present in larger amounts and with higher energy than previously thought ":

Other sources of radio emission in the image in addition to the star shooter-shaped object are the shorter rays of another galaxy (labeled "jet beams") and a "radio fonix" which consists of a cloud of electrons emitted in radio emission, but then became re-energized when shock waves compressed the cloud. This caused the cloud to shine again at radio frequencies, as we reported back 2015.

Researchers with Leiden University, Institute of Radio Astronomy, University of Hamburg and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics have published their findings in Science Advances.

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