Chandra and optical composite of the collision of 4 galaxy clusters
Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.)

Pileup on the Intergalactic Freeway

The web of the cosmos is structured by dark matter. This web is seen in the outline provided by the emission of normal matter in the form of stars bound in galaxies and in the form of hot shocked gas bound to groups of galaxies. Imaging the optical starlight of the galaxies and the X-ray emitting hot gas produced by interactions between galaxies can provide a 3-D view of the usually hidden dark framework of the Universe. The image above shows a particularly spectacular example of how matter is structured and how it interacts gravitationally and mechanically. The optical galaxies shown above are from a Hubble Space Telescope image, while the diffuse blue-purple emission is hot gas seen in a Chandra X-ray Observatory image, and is produced by the interaction of 4 galaxy clusters in an enormous cosmic collision.
Published: April 27, 2009

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:23:12 EDT