Astronomers have discovered a large reservoir of hot gas in a still-forming galaxy cluster
Clusters containing thousands of galaxiesare among the largest known objects in the universe. They contain an intracluster medium (ICM) of gas that exceeds the weight of the galaxies themselves. So far, ICM has only been studied in fully formed nearby clusters. Finding the intracluster environment in distant, still-forming objects allows scientists to study the early stages of their formation.
Led by Luca Di Mascolo, researcherfrom the University of Trieste in Italy, scientists were trying to detect ICM in a protocluster from the early universe. They focused on the Web protocluster, which appeared when the universe was only 3 billion years old. Astronomers used the Sunyaev-Zeldovich thermal effect. This is a change in the intensity of radio emission from the background background due to the inverse Compton effect on hot electrons of interstellar and intergalactic gas. The effect is named after the scientists who predicted it in 1969. It occurs when light from the cosmic microwave background passes through the intracluster medium.
Researchers discover new clusters of galaxies born in the early universe. Photo: ESO/Di Mascolo et al/Hubble/H. Ford
It turned out that the protocluster of the Web containsa vast reservoir of hot gas with a temperature of tens of millions of degrees Celsius. Although cold gas has been found there before, the mass of hot gas found in the new study is thousands of times greater.
Scientists believe that the Web protoclusterhas great potential. It will turn into a massive galactic cluster in about 10 billion years and increase its mass by at least ten times.
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Cover photo: Space Telescope Science Institute