Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Precocious galaxy cluster identified by Chandra

Date:
October 28, 2010
Source:
NASA
Summary:
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an unusual galaxy cluster that contains a bright core of relatively cool gas surrounding a quasar called 3C 186. This is the most distant such object yet observed, and could provide insight into the triggering of quasars and the growth of galaxy clusters.

Composite image of the galaxy cluster surrounding quasar 3C 186.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Siemiginowska et al. Optical: AURA/Gemini Obs.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an unusual galaxy cluster that contains a bright core of relatively cool gas surrounding a quasar called 3C 186. This is the most distant such object yet observed, and could provide insight into the triggering of quasars and the growth of galaxy clusters.

This composite image of the cluster surrounding 3C 186 includes a new, deep image from Chandra (blue) showing emission from gas surrounding the point-like quasar near the center of the cluster. Chandra X-ray spectra show that the temperature of the gas drops from 80 million degrees on the outskirts of the cluster down to 30 million in the core. This drop in temperature occurs because intense X-ray emission from the gas cools it. Optical data from the Gemini telescope in yellow show the stars and galaxies in the field of view.

What makes this particular galaxy cluster and its strong cooling core interesting is its age. 3C 186 is about 8 billion light years away from Earth, making it the most distant known galaxy cluster to contain a prominent cooling core. Because of its large distance the cluster is being seen when the Universe is relatively young, at less than half its current age.

Previous observations have revealed large numbers of clusters with strong cooling cores at smaller distances from the Earth, less than about 6 billion light years. Far fewer, however, have been found at larger distances between 6 and 8 billion light years. Considering its young age this "precocious" galaxy cluster around 3C 186 appears to be surprisingly well formed.

One explanation why fewer cooling cores are seen at larger distances is that these younger clusters experience higher rates of merging with other clusters or galaxies. These mergers would destroy the cooling cores. When coupled with the fact that it takes cooling cores a long time to form, this would make them rare in the earlier stages of the Universe.

Since this cluster was only found serendipitously through a Chandra survey of a small sample of radio sources, it is possible that many more similar objects exist at large distances. If these are discovered, it may revise our understanding of how galaxy clusters developed during this period of the Universe's history.

This galaxy cluster is also the most distant ever seen to contain a quasar. Only one other galaxy cluster containing a bright quasar has had a detailed study of its X-ray emitting gas, and this is located much closer to the Earth than 3C 186. In principle, the cooling gas near 3C 186 can provide enough fuel to support the growth of the supermassive black hole, the power source for the quasar.

This object also provides an interesting chance to study the effects of a quasar within a galaxy cluster environment. The energy generated by the black hole can be released into the cluster not just via mechanical power in a jet, but also by radiation from the bright quasar. This might result in a powerful wind that heats the surrounding gas and prevents further cooling.

The cluster is likely to be an ancestor of well-known nearby clusters such as Perseus and MS 0735.6+7421, where jets powered by the central black hole are boring out cavities in the cluster gas. It is much more distant and younger than these other two clusters and the radio source associated with 3C 186 is smaller and younger than in Perseus and MS 0735.6+7421.

The paper describing these results is published in the October 10th issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The list of authors is Aneta Siemiginowska, Douglas Burke and Thomas Aldcroft from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Diana Worrall from the University of Bristol, UK, Steve Allen from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, Jill Bechtold from the University of Arizona, and Tracy Clarke and Teddy Cheung from the Naval Research Laboratory.

NASA's MSFC in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Precocious galaxy cluster identified by Chandra." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026132647.htm>.
NASA. (2010, October 28). Precocious galaxy cluster identified by Chandra. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026132647.htm
NASA. "Precocious galaxy cluster identified by Chandra." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026132647.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins