Several hundred million years ago, two galaxy clusters collided and then passed through each other. This mighty event released a flood of hot gas from each galaxy cluster that formed an unusual bridge between the two objects. This bridge is now being pummeled by particles driven away from a supermassive black hole.
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe held together by gravity. They contain hundreds or thousands of galaxies, vast amounts of multi-million-degree gas that glow in X-rays, and enormous reservoirs of unseen dark matter.
The system known as Abell 2384 shows the giant structures that can result when two galaxy clusters collide. A superheated gas bridge in Abell 2384 is shown in this composite image of X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton (blue), as well as the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India (red). This new multi-wavelength view reveals the effects of a jet shooting away from a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy in one of the clusters. The jet is so powerful that it is bending the shape of the gas bridge, which extends for over 3 million light years and has the mass of about 6 trillion Suns.