Added 1 new A* page:Yeah I had to stop at one page today to stop sunlight from completely lapping me. :P Darn Sun!|
I've been bugging people about A*'s brand new subscription and e-book features all week, and I'm not about to quit here on the home stretch! :D
It was just announced that scientists at the Chandra, South Pole, and other observatories have discovered one of the largest galactic clusters known: the Phoenix Cluster weighs in at maybe somewhere around 2 quadrillion (that's the one above "trillion"--10^15) solar masses.
The announcement article is pretty interesting for its discussion of the structure and theorized processes powering galactic clusters. The Phoenix Cluster has thrown a wrench in the works of an existing theory of how galactic clusters work, because while the huge cloud of hot gas inside it--which like in most galactic clusters contains more mass than the galaxies themselves--is cooling, the center of the cluster is also undergoing a very heavy starburst event, with loads of new stars being created.
It *had* been thought that for major star growth, a galactic cluster was powered by energy from jets shooting out of its central supermassive black hole; this is the case in the Perseus Cluster. But the Phoenix doesn't show signs of active jets--and yet it birthed an estimated 740 solar masses worth of new stars in the past year, which is 20 times the current estimated growth rate of Perseus. So Phoenix, whose central supermassive black hole isn't shooting out jets or huge bubbles of relativistic plasma like Perseus is, and is actually undergoing cooling of its gas at a record rate, is still putting out more X-rays than any of what would normally be considered more "active" clusters, and is growing more stars.
AND its central supermassive black hole, which is already a record 20 billion solar masses (that's about 5,000 times as massive as our own galaxy's supermassive black hole Sgr A*, and 2 billion more than the previous estimated record holder, OJ 287), is growing at the rate of about 60 solar masses per year.
Pretty exciting stuff on the supermassive black hole scene! Scientists will have to come up with some new theories to explain what exactly is going on there.
There doesn't seem to be a great photo of the Phoenix Cluster (just a tiny and quite nondescript one in the announcement article--not too impressive for a cluster that's supposed to be 7.3 million light years across, but then again it is about 5.7 billion light years away), but there are some pretty good ones from the merely 237 million light-years distant Perseus Cluster, whose X-ray emission, the strongest we receive from any galactic cluster, was first detected back in 1970. You can see its central "bubbles" of plasma blown outwards by jets from its supermassive black hole because the superheated molecules in them shine brightly in X-rays picked up by Chandra:
image by NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al. (source)
The galaxy at Perseus' center is NGC 1275, also known as Perseus A, which is being spun out into incredibly long filaments of gas by the supermassive black hole's jets: "The amount of gas contained in a typical thread is approximately one million times the mass of our own Sun. They are only 200 light-years wide, are often very straight, and extend for up to 20,000 light-years." The threads are "much cooler" than the hot gas cloud around them, which is something of a puzzle: why haven't they heated up, or collapsed to form stars?
image by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration (source)
Hey if you wanted to make a graphic that's as big as the radius of the solar system, at say 72 dpi, your image would only have to be about 60,207,906,528,000,000 pixels high!
And you can't escape without seeing today's hideous bunch of warmup sketches!