Largest shock wave within the universe is ’60 instances bigger than the Milky Method,’ new examine finds

What occurs when two of the most important objects within the universe collide?

Easy, says a brand new examine: They create one of many largest shock waves within the universe.

Positioned about 730 million light-years from Earth, Abell 3667 is a galaxy cluster in chaos. Really composed of two clusters (or teams) of galaxies colliding into each other, Abell 3667 comprises greater than 550 particular person galaxies slowly stirring into one huge cosmic gumbo.

It isn’t readily obvious to most telescopes, however this cosmic collision has created an infinite disturbance within the area — a gargantuan shock wave flaring out of both facet of the merging cluster, and visual solely in radio wavelengths.

Now, a brand new examine revealed Feb. 7 within the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics presents essentially the most detailed image ever captured of this huge wave. Utilizing the MeerKAT radio telescope array in South Africa, the researchers imaged each halves of the shock wave’s radio part — additionally known as “radio relics” — and located that the constructions are much more advanced than earlier observations indicated.

“The shock waves act as big particle accelerators and speed up electrons virtually to the velocity of sunshine,” lead examine creator Francesco de Gasperin, visiting scientist on the Hamburg Observatory in Germany, said in a statement. “The waves are threaded by an intricate sample of vivid filaments that hint the situation of big magnetic field lines and the areas the place electrons are accelerated.”

In response to the researchers, the shock wave first blasted into being about 1 billion years in the past, when the 2 galaxy clusters that make up Abell 3667 first collided. Galaxy clusters are essentially the most huge gravitationally-bound constructions within the universe; when two of them merge, they launch the most important quantity of power in a single occasion for the reason that Big Bang, the researchers stated.


Because the wave shot electrons into area at near-light-speed, the particles tore by way of magnetic fields within the area, emitting the dual arcs of radio waves seen at this time. The researchers discovered that these radio arcs every transfer at greater than 3.3 million miles per second (5.3 million kilometers per second), are about 13 million light-years aside from one another; and every measure 60 instances bigger than all the Milky Way galaxy, which spans about 100,000 light-years in diameter.

That is one mighty explosion — and for astronomers sitting safely throughout the universe, one “spectacular” view, the researchers stated.

Initially revealed on Reside Science.


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