Largest and Hottest Galaxy Cluster yet found in the Universe; “El Gordo”

El Gordo from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory

Astronomers have found the largest, hottest and most energetic galactic cluster ever i.e. El Gordo Galaxy Cluster, officially referred to as ACT-CL J0102-4915. “El Gordo” means “fat one” or “big one” in Spanish. Galaxy clusters are named after clustering of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies together.

Astronomers have found this by using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation-funded Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile.

“This cluster is the most massive, the hottest, and gives off the most X-rays of any known cluster at this distance or beyond,” said Felipe Menanteau of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who led the study.

It is about two quadrillion times the mass of the sun and consists mostly of dark matter, an undetected mass in the universe. It is present more than 7 billion light years away from Earth. At such distance, the universe is considered as half of its current age i.e. opening another point for researchers; so early formation of such a cluster.

“Although El Gordo is a very rare object, it’s not inconsistent with current formation theories,” said astronomer Jack Hughes of Rutgers University, who presented the giant object Jan. 10 at the American Astronomical Society meeting.

It has been suggested that cluster’s enormous size has been attributed to the collision of two separate clusters as shown by two density peaks showing the presence of two clusters. The bluish aspect in the picture refers to a huge gas and dust pocket.

Further Reading:

NASA

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