Astronomy Picture of the Week – Galaxy Cluster MS0735

This image of galaxy cluster MS 0735 is actually a composite of three separate images in different wavelengths. The cluster’s full scientific designation is MS0735.6+7421. It is located about 2.6 billion light-years away in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Galaxy Cluster MS 0735 Composite Image by Hubble Space Telescope

Since the human eye can only see a small fraction of wavelengths, three images made by three different telescopes have been combined together to show a wider view of the galaxy cluster.

The image below taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in February 2006 is the optical view of the galaxy cluster. It means that this is all the human eye can see. There are dozens of galaxies bound together by gravity, but all the other wonders are invisible to us.

Galaxy Cluster MS 0735 in Visible Light by Hubble

Actually, hot and diffuse gas with a temperature of nearly 50 million degrees fills the space between the galaxies. It emits X-rays, which can be seen as blue in the image below taken with the Chandra X-ray Observatory in November 2003. Enormous gaps can be seen in the gas, each roughly 640,000 light-years in diameter which is nearly seven times the diameter of the Milky Way.

Galaxy Cluster MS0735 in X-rays by Hubble

Those gaps are filled with charged particles gyrating around magnetic field lines and emitting radio waves shown as red in the image below taken with the Very Large Array telescope in New Mexico in October 2004. The gaps were created by jets of charged particles ejected at nearly light speed from a huge supermassive black hole with the mass of nearly a billion Suns located in the nucleus of the bright central galaxy. The amount of gas displaced by those jets is staggering. It is the equivalent of more than one trillion solar masses.

Galaxy Cluster MS 0735 Radio Image by Hubble

Images credits: NASA, ESA, CXC, STScI, and B. McNamara (University of Waterloo), Very Large Array Telescope (VLA), NRAO, and L. Birzan and team (Ohio University).