XMM Newton Image of the Pavo Group
Credit: M.E. Machacek et al., 2005, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 630, pg. 280; ESA; optical: Digitized Sky Survey

Peacock's Plumage

Galaxies are gregarious, but they sometimes don't play well with each other. A particular case in point has been recently revealed by XMM-Newton X-ray image of a group of galaxies in the constellation Pavo (the Peacock). The false-color X-ray image (above left) of the Pavo group of galaxies shows an X-ray "tail" which extends from a spiral galaxy in the group towards the dominant elliptical galaxy. The image on the right is an optical image with the contours of the X-ray emission overlaid. The X-ray tail might be the an artifact of intergalactic gas which has become gravitationally focussed behind the spiral galaxy, or perhaps is gas which was stripped from the spiral as it moves at high velocity through the intergalactic medium. Such images are helping astronomers understand the ways in which galaxies in groups and clusters interact and evolve.

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