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Astronomers have detected a 'missing link' shock wave in merging galaxies

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

The colossal shock wave generated by the first stages of a collision between some of the most massive structures in the Universe has just been seen and imaged for the first time.

The detection was found in the galaxy cluster Abell 98, which is a large structure made up of three smaller sub-clusters of galaxies located more than 1.2 billion light-years from the Solar System.

There, a huge filament of gas contains the enormous shock along the merger axis that has been theoretically predicted to be the first 'contact' between two sub-clusters of galaxies as they start to merge.

"With this discovery, we caught two sub-clusters of a galaxy cluster in a crucial early epoch of the merging process, with a strong shock between them, providing a missing link to the formation of the most massive structures in our Universe," said physicist and astronomer Arnab Sarkar of the University of Kentucky.



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