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The El Gordo Massive Galaxy Cluster

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:29 am via: NASA
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It is bigger than a bread box. In fact, it is much bigger than all bread boxes put together. Galaxy cluster ACT-CL J0102-4915 is one of the largest and most massive objects known. Dubbed “El Gordo”, the seven billion light years (z = 0.87) distant galaxy cluster spans about seven million light years and holds the mass of a million billion Suns.

The above image of El Gordo is a composite of a visible light image from the Hubble Space Telescope, an X-ray image from the Chandra Observatory showing the hot gas in pink, and a computer generated map showing the most probable distribution of dark matter in blue, computed from gravitational lens distortions of background galaxies.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Jee (UC Davis) et al.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Jee (UC Davis) et al.

Almost all of the bright spots are galaxies. The blue dark matter distribution indicates that the cluster is in the middle stages of a collision between two large galaxy clusters. A careful inspection of the image will reveal a nearly vertical galaxy that appears unusually long. That galaxy is actually far in the background and has its image stretched by the gravitational lens action of the massive cluster.

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