Feeds

Galaxies rent asunder in huge cosmic collision

There goes the no-claims bonus

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

An international team of astronomers has observed the perfect cosmic storm: the most powerful collision of two galactic clusters ever recorded.

The scientists who discovered the collision likened it to two high-pressure weather fronts colliding to create hurricane-like conditions. Only in this case, whole galaxies can be thrown from their paths. As the two clusters hit each other head on, the impact created an enormous shock wave of superheated gases and plasma that rolled out into space.

Galactic clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe: each cluster contains thousands of galaxies and millions of stars.

The cosmic light show was spotted with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory. The super cluster involved is Abell 754, in the constellation Hydra.

Team leader Dr Patrick Henry of the University of Hawaii said: "Here before our eyes we see the making of one of the biggest objects in the universe. What was once two distinct but smaller galaxy clusters 300 million years ago is now one massive cluster in turmoil."

The AOL takeover of Time-Warner was peanuts compared to this merger, he added.

Although the super cluster has been known for many years, it is only with the detailed analysis of data now available that scientists can say what actually happened during the collision.

"One cluster has apparently smashed into the other from the 'northwest' and has since made one pass through," said Dr Alexis Finoguenov of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

"Now, gravity will pull the remnants of this first cluster back towards the core of the second. Over the next few billion years, the remnants of the clusters will settle and the merger will be complete."

The Milky Way is also part of a galactic cluster. We are heading for the Virgo cluster, it seems, and will ram straight into it in around two billion years time. Make a note in your diaries. ®

Related stories

Missing galaxies puzzle scientists
Earth to disappear from alien radar
Hubble loses an eye
Astronomers uncover mystery at galactic core

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NASA aborts third attempt at finally settling man-made CO2 debate
Two birds died trying. Will the third make it?
Man FOUND ON MOON denies lunar alien interface
'The UFO people were very very angry with me' Buzz Aldrin tells Reddit
Would it be BAD if the Amazon rainforest was all FARMS? Well it WAS, once
Used to be all fields round here: Jungle tribesman saying
In space no one can hear you scream, but Voyager 1 can hear A ROAR
Boffins now very, very, sure craft is in interstellar space, and it's picking up 'sounds'
Boeing to start work on most powerful rocket ... EVER!
NASA okays start of Space Launch System after design review
Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system
Crap in my begonias? Oh no you don't, you furry little sod
SPACE: The FINAL FRONTIER. These are the TEN-YEAR images of star probe Cassini
Fuel running fearfully low, but the mission continues
'BIGGEST BIRD EVER': 21-foot ripsaw-beaked flying HORROR
Fossil avian cruised above sea like toothy ekranoplan
Help us out readers: How would you sniff and store network traffic?
Phase two of our deep desert project needs your wisdom
prev story

Whitepapers

How modern custom applications can spur business growth.
In this whitepaper learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem
Only the Power of One delivers leading infrastructure convergence, availability and scalability with federation, and agility through data center automation.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization
Virtualization continues to be one of the most effective ways to consolidate, reduce cost, and make data centers more efficient.
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
In this whitepaper learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.