December 1, 2022

Astronomers See an Enormous Shockwave – 60x Bigger Than the Entire Milky Way Galaxy

Image of the bigger shockwave front, and an image of the Milky Way for scale. Credit: Francesco de Gasperin, SARAO
Astronomers have a thing for big explosions and crashes, and it always appears like they are attempting to one-up themselves in discovering a bigger, brighter one. Theres a brand-new entrant to that category– an event so huge it produced a burst of particles over 1 billion years ago that is still visible today and is 60 times larger than the entire Milky Way.
That shockwave was created by the merger of 2 galaxy clusters to produce a supercluster known as Abell 3667. This was among the most energetic occasions in the universe since the Big Bang, according to calculations by Professor Francesco de Gasperin and his time from the University of Hamburg and INAF. When it occurred over 200 million years back, it shot out a wave of electrons, similar to how a particle accelerator would. All these years later on, those particles are still taking a trip at Mach 2.5 (1500 km/ s), and when they pass through magnetic fields, they discharge radio waves.
Image of galaxy cluster Abell 3667, where the white color in the center is a concatenation of 550 distinct galaxies, however the red structures represent the shockwaves formed throughout the production of this supercluster. Credit: Francesco de Gasperin, SARAO
Those radio waves are what Dr. de Gasperin and his associates observed utilizing a new telescope selection in South Africa understood as MeerKAT. Radio signals alone werent enough to characterize the shockwave itself, though– the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory likewise spent some time concentrated on Abell 3667.

All these years later on, those particles are still taking a trip at Mach 2.5 (1500 km/ s), and when they pass through magnetic fields, they discharge radio waves.
The results of all those observations is a much better understanding of the physics of the merger of these galaxy clusters, which were “much more complicated than we at first believed,” stated Dr. de Gasperin. What is clear from the photos is that, even when scientists are simply looking for big accidents, the resulting radio images may be awe-inspiring in themselves.

The outcomes of all those observations is a much better understanding of the physics of the merger of these galaxy clusters, which were “much more intricate than we initially thought,” stated Dr. de Gasperin. The shockwaves themselves look like “filaments that trace the area of huge electromagnetic field lines.” What is clear from the photos is that, even when scientists are just searching for huge accidents, the resulting radio images might be awe-inspiring in themselves.
Initially released on Universe Today.
For more on this discovery, see A Massive Cosmic Shock Wave That Extends for 6.5 Million Light Years.

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