Home Radio waves Universe’s Largest Shockwave Is ’60 Times Larger Than The Milky Way’, New Study Says

Universe’s Largest Shockwave Is ’60 Times Larger Than The Milky Way’, New Study Says


What happens when two of the largest objects in the universe collide?

Simple, says a new study: They create one of the biggest shock waves in the universe.

Located around 730 million Light years from Earth, Abell 3667 is a cluster of galaxies in chaos. Actually made up of two clusters (or groups) of colliding galaxies, Abell 3667 contains more than 550 individual galaxies slowly swirling around in one big cosmic gumbo.

It’s not obvious to most telescopes, but this cosmic collision created a huge disturbance in the region – a gargantuan shockwave erupting from either side of the merged cluster, and visible only in radio wavelengths.

Now, a new study published February 7 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics offers the most detailed image ever captured of this huge wave. Using the MeerKAT radio telescope network in South Africa, the researchers imaged both halves of the shock wave’s radio component – also known as “radio relics” – and found that the structures are much more complex than the observations. previous ones did not indicate it.

“Shockwaves act like giant particle accelerators and accelerate electrons almost to the speed of light,” said study lead author Francesco de Gasperin, a visiting scientist at the Hamburg Observatory in Germany. . said in a press release. “The waves are threaded by an intricate pattern of glowing filaments that trace the location of the giant magnetic field lines and regions where electrons are accelerated.”

According to the researchers, the shock wave first occurred about 1 billion years ago, when the two clusters of galaxies that make up Abell 3667 first collided. Galaxy clusters are the most enormous gravitational structures in the universe; when two of them merge, they release the greatest amount of energy in a single event since the big Bangthe researchers said.

As the wave blasted electrons out into space at near-lightspeed, the particles passed through the region’s magnetic fields, emitting the twin arcs of radio waves seen today. The researchers found that these radio arcs each travel at over 3.3 million miles per second (5.3 million kilometers per second), are about 13 million light-years apart; and each is 60 times larger than the whole Milky Way galaxy, which spans about 100,000 light-years in diameter.

It’s a powerful explosion – and for astronomers seated safely across the universe, a “spectacular” sight, the researchers said.

Originally posted on Live Science.