Active galaxy in the MS 0735.6+7421 cluster
Credit:NASA/CXC/Univ. Waterloo/B.McNamara; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/Univ. Waterloo/B.McNamara; Radio: NRAO/Ohio Univ./L.Birzan et al.

Feasting and Burping

Voracious beasts lie in galaxies' dark hearts, supermassive black holes which have swallowed billions of suns. But even in clusters of dozens of galaxies, one often stands out. A case in point is the galaxy cluster called MS 0735.6+7421, shown above in an optical image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument. Dozen of member galaxies can be seen in the ACS image. In blue, a huge cloud of extremely hot gas is detected by the ACIS instrument on the Chandra X-ray Observatory. This gas exists at enormous pressure but is held in place by the extremely large gravitational well produced by the dark matter in the cluster. The darkest of dark matter of course are the black holes. An enormous black hole lies at the center of the brightest cluster galaxy seen near the center of the image. The radio telescopes of the Very Large Array find jets of radio emitting charged particles shown in red in the above image. Astronomers believe this black hole has recently swallowed an enormous amount of matter, producing an eruption which generated enormous cavities in the hot gas.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:11:21 EDT