Sunday, August 06, 2017

Spot the cluster

Credit: ESO
Acknowledgements: Flickr user hdahle70

This image from the Wide-Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope shows the starry skies around a galaxy cluster named PLCKESZ G286.6-31.3. The cluster itself is difficult to spot initially, but shows up as a subtle clustering of yellowish galaxies near the centre of the frame.

PLCKESZ G286.6-31.3 houses up to 1000 galaxies, in addition to large quantities of hot gas and dark matter. As such, the cluster has a total mass of 530 trillion (530 000 000 000 000) times the mass of the Sun.

When viewed from Earth, PLCKESZ G286.6-31.3 is seen through the outer fringes of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) — one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies. The LMC hosts over 700 star clusters, in addition to hundreds of thousands of giant and supergiant stars. The majority of the cosmic objects captured in this image are stars and star clusters located inside the LMC .

The MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope has been in operation at ESO’s La Silla Observatory since 1984. The telescope has been utilised for a variety of cutting-edge scientific studies, including ground-breaking research into gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the Universe. The 67-million-pixel Wide Field Imager (WFI) — mounted on the telescope’s Cassegrain focus — has been obtaining detailed views of faint, distant objects since 1999.

The data to create this image was selected from the ESO archive as part of the Hidden Treasures competition.

Source: ESO/Images