Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, Galaxies, General Astronomy > Astronomers Reassured by Record-breaking Star Formation In Huge Galaxy Cluster

Astronomers Reassured by Record-breaking Star Formation In Huge Galaxy Cluster


Image courtesy of the Chandra X-ray Observatory

Until now, evidence for what astronomers suspect happens at the cores of the largest galaxy clusters has been uncomfortably scarce. Theory predicts that cooling flows of gas should sink toward the cluster’s center, sparking extreme star formation there, but so far – nada, zilch, not-so-much.

The situation changed dramatically when a large international team of over 80 astronomers, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Hubble Fellow Michael McDonald, studied a recently discovered (yet among the largest-known) galaxy cluster. The team found evidence for extreme star formation, or a starburst, significantly more extensive than any seen before in the core of a giant galaxy cluster. “It is indeed reassuring to see this process in action,” says McDonald. “Further study of this system may shed some light on why other clusters aren’t forming stars at these high rates, as they should be.”

“Our first observations of this cluster with the Gemini South telescope in Chile really helped to ignite this work,” says McDonald. “They were the first hints that the central galaxy in this cluster was such a beast!” The paper’s second author, Matthew Bayliss of Harvard University, adds, “When I first saw the Gemini spectrum, I thought we must have mixed up the spectra, it just looked so bizarre compared to anything else of its kind.”

Full Story: http://www.gemini.edu/node/11853

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