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Composite image from telescopes showcases 'stellar beads on a string'

Astronomers have captured a black hole blasting one of the most intense outbursts ever recorded. 

This black hole resides in the colossal galaxy cluster SDSS J1531+3414 (or SDSS J1531). This cluster harbors hundreds of galaxies and massive reserves of hot gas and dark matter. At its heart, two of the largest galaxies in the cluster are colliding with each other. 

This mega-explosion from the black hole occurred billions of years ago. 

It has emerged as a crucial event that could elucidate the origin of a remarkable arrangement of star clusters encircling two immense galaxies. This celestial arrangement resembles "beads on a string."

“We are already looking at this system as it existed four billion years ago, not long after the Earth formed,” said Osase Omoruyi, who led the study at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA).

Omoruyi added, "This ancient cavity, a fossil of the black hole’s effect on the host galaxy and its surroundings, tells us about a key event that happened nearly 200 million years earlier in the cluster’s history.”

The features of this composite image

Astronomers conducted extensive observations of this system using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope.

The resulting composite image, which combines Chandra's X-ray data (blue and purple), LOFAR's radio data (dark pink), and an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope (yellow and white), depicts a fascinating cosmic panorama. 

SDSS J1531 comprises 19 massive star clusters resembling beads on a thread. 

Multiwavelength Image of SDSS J1531, Labeled.

“The multiwavelength data provides signs of an ancient, titanic eruption in SDSS J1531, which a team of researchers think was responsible for the creation of the 19 star clusters,” mentions NASA release. 

“Their argument is that an extremely powerful jet from the supermassive black holes in the center of one of the large galaxies pushed the surrounding hot gas away from the black hole, creating a gigantic cavity,” the press release explained

Chandra discovered "wings" of intense X-ray emission that outline the cavity's boundaries, indicating this event. LOFAR's measurements reveal radio waves from the jet's energetic particles that fill this vast gap.

Further revelations come from the Atacama Large Millimeter, submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Gemini North Telescope, detecting cold and warm gas near the cavity's opening. 

The team posits that a portion of the hot gas propelled outward from the black hole underwent a cooling process, forming the depicted cold and warm gas.

The captivating beads on a string structure of star clusters are thought to be the product of tidal forces caused by merging galaxies compressing the gas along curved trajectories.

This remarkable discovery not only throws light on the ancient catastrophic events in SDSS J1531 but also gives critical insights into the formation of galaxy structures.

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 2/22/2024

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