Astronomers See Galaxies ‘Sloshing’ Gas

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve observed a distant galaxy cluster 480 million light-years from Earth with vast clouds of hot gas that are “sloshing” about.

Astronomers at the Naval Research Laboratory studied the 30-million degree gas using X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical data from the Very Large Telescope, an NRL release said Tuesday.

“The X-ray images were amazing. We were able to see gas sloshing like liquid in a glass,” NRL’s Tracy Clarke said. “Of course this would be one enormous glass since we see the gas sloshing over a region of nearly a million light years across!”

The image of the cluster, known as Abell 2052, shows a spiral shape, caused when a small cluster of galaxies collided off-center with a larger one positioned in the center of the galaxy cluster.

The gravitational attraction of the smaller cluster drew the hot gas out of the center toward the smaller group until it passed the central cluster, astronomers said, reversing the gas movement and creating the “sloshing” effect captures in the image.

Chandra’s observation of Abell 2052 lasted more than a week to provide scientists with the details detected in the image, the NRL release said.

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