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Speeding bullet galaxy observed slamming into galaxy cluster

Posted January 19, 2015

Researchers working at Europe’s XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope have observed a speeding galaxy smashing its way through a galaxy cluster called Abell 4067. They have reported their observations and findings in a paper uploaded to thearXiv server, soon to be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Speeding bullet galaxy observed slamming into galaxy cluster

XMM-Newton flux image of RXCJ2359.3-6042. All three detectors were combined after the exposure correction in the [0.5-2.0] keV band. A scale of three arcmin is shown with a bar. Credit: arXiv:1501.02371 [astro-ph.GA]

Scientists have observed a galaxy smashing into another one before—back in 2008 such an event was seen and provided what many have called proof of the existence of dark matter. The speeding galaxy left behind a gas trail, while evidence of something else clearly left a trail veering off in a different direction. The observation also added credence to the theory that dark matter exists in a ring around most galaxies.

The more recent collision occurred approximately 1.4 billion light years away—the bullet, the team reports, was traveling at approximately 814 miles per second and survived. Such impacts allow researchers both beautiful imagery and a trove of data—they allow for the bullet galaxy to have its mass measured, for example.

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