(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have noticed in space the largest shock wave that propagates at the speed of light. Its scale is amazing.
When two clusters of galaxies collide, a shock wave is created that is much larger than the diameter of the Milky Way.
Located about 730 million light-years from Earth, Abell 3667 is a cluster of galaxies. In fact, consisting of two clusters (or groups) of galaxies colliding with each other, Abell 3667 contains more than 550 individual galaxies, slowly mixing into one large cosmic coma.
Most telescopes failed to notice this, but a cosmic collision within this cluster created a huge disturbance in the region – a giant shock wave that erupts from both sides of the merging cluster and is visible only in the radio wave range.
Cosmic shock wave
A new study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics offers the most detailed picture of what this huge wave looks like.
Using the MeerKAT array of radio telescopes in South Africa, the researchers imaged both halves of the radio component of the shock wave – also called “radio relics” – and found that the structures are far more complex than previous observations have shown.
The shockwave first emerged about 1 billion years ago, when the two clusters of galaxies that make up Abell 3667 first collided, the researchers say. Clusters of galaxies are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. When two such structures merge, they release the largest amount of energy in a single event since the Big Bang.
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