Press Release

Chandra reveals plume-like feature in Centaurus galaxy cluster

By SpaceRef Editor
January 31, 2002
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The Chandra image of the Centaurus galaxy cluster shows a long plume-like
feature resembling a twisted sheet. The plume is some 70,000 light years
in length and has a temperature of about 10 million degrees Celsius. It
is several million degrees cooler than the hot gas around it, as seen in
this temperature-coded image in which the sequence red, yellow, green,
blue indicates increasing gas temperatures.

The plume contains a mass comparable to 1 billion suns. It may have formed
by gas cooling from the cluster onto the moving target of the central
galaxy, as seen by Chandra in the Abell 1795 cluster. Other possibilities
are that the plume consists of debris stripped from a galaxy that fell
into the cluster, or that it is gas pushed out of the center of the
cluster by explosive activity in the central galaxy. A problem with these
ideas is that the plume has the same concentration of heavy elements such
as oxygen, silicon, and iron as the surrounding hot gas.

Credit: NASA/IOTA/J. Sanders and A. Fabian

SpaceRef staff editor.