The Perseus Cluster


perseusCluster_cxc_cThe Perseus Cluster is a group of several thousand galaxies around 250 million light-years away. It’s one of the most massive objects in the Universe and the brightest galaxy cluster as seen in x-rays. Perseus A (NGC 1275), a giant cannibal galaxy, sits at the center of the cluster accreting matter as gas and whole galaxies fall into it. This Chandra Observatory x-ray image spans about 300,000 light-years across the galaxy cluster core showing remarkable details of the x-ray emission from the monster central galaxy and surrounding super hot (30 to 70 million °C) cluster gas. The bright central object is the supermassive black hole at the core of Perseus A. Low density regions are seen as dark bubbles or voids which are believed to be generated by cyclic outbursts of activity from the black hole. The activity creates pressure waves that move through the x-ray hot gas—sound waves on a cosmic scale. The blue-green wisps just above centre in this false-color view are probably x-ray shadows of the remains of a small galaxy being swallowed by Perseus A.

Image Credit: NASA

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