Feeds

Galaxies rent asunder in huge cosmic collision

There goes the no-claims bonus

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.