Two giant galaxy clusters
crashing into each other triggered enormous shock waves stretching 1.6 million light-years through space.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory,
are helping astronomers better understand the powerful processes at work in collisions between clusters
The majority consists of an immense
halo of dark matter and a cloud of hot, diffuse gas called the intra-cluster medium that envelops the galaxies in the cluster.
Because the gas is so hot,
radiating at hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius, it shines brightly in X-rays.
When two clusters
come into contact, the individual galaxies slide harmlessly past each other
But the gas of the
intra-cluster medium undergoes a far more energetic encounter, generating vast shock waves.
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