The Most Massive Young Galaxy Cluster Ever Discovered
This image, a composite of x-ray, infrared, and optical data, shows the most massive galaxy cluster ever discovered at its distance: a staggering 9.6 billion light-years away, altogether containing the equivalent mass of 400 trillion suns.
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With the unwieldy official name of XDCP J0044.0-2033 researchers have nicknamed the cluster "Gioiello," meaning "jewel" in Italian. And it's a fitting name due to the brightness of the energetic star-forming galaxies in X-ray wavelengths, which NASA's Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray space observatories are designed to detect.
About 6.2 million light-years across in its entirety, the Gioiello cluster is located in the constellation of Cetus, the Whale. Its estimated age is about 800 million years - which is very young for such a massive cluster at that distance. By comparison our own Milky Way galaxy is at least 13.4 billion years old, if not older.
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"Unlike the galaxy clusters that are close to us, this cluster still has lots of stars forming within its galaxies," said study co-author Joana Santos. "This gives us a unique window into what galaxy clusters are like when they are very young."
Combined with other recent discoveries of extremely massive and distant galaxy clusters - such as El Gordo, seven billion light-years away - these findings are forcing a reconsideration of how the early universe evolved.
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The study results are published online in The Astrophysical Journal. Learn more about Gioiello on the Chandra website here.
Source: Chandra X-ray Observatory