Astronomers discover the longest galaxy-scale stripping process ever observed

November 7, 2015 by Tomasz Nowakowski report
Adaptively smoothed X-ray image of galaxy cluster Zwicky 8338. Credit: Gerrit Schellenberger, Thomas Reiprich.

(Phys.org)—Astronomers from the University of Bonn in Germany, have discovered what appears to be the longest X-ray tail associated with a stripping process from a galaxy on a large scale. This galaxy with the enormous X-ray tail is a member of a galaxy cluster known as Zwicky 8338. The researchers detailed their findings in a paper published on Nov. 2 in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.

Gerrit Schellenberger and Thomas Reiprich observed Zwicky 8338 using NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory. They found out that one of the grouped in this cluster showcases a very long X-ray , which is approximately 248,000 light years in length. What is surprising is that the galaxy must have lost all of its X-ray emitting gas very recently.

"It is likely the longest X-ray tail associated with a stripping process from a galaxy with the largest separation from the host galaxy ever detected," they wrote in the paper.

The observed galaxy, designated CGCG254-021, is located slightly more than one million light years from the center of Zwicky 8338. The researchers discovered that it resembles a comet, having distinctive features like a 'head' and a 'tail'. The head, as it is described in the paper, is brighter than the galaxy's tail, which is simply an elongated structure of diffuse emission.

The scientists indicate that in the region outside the main tail, the temperature seems to be significantly higher than any part of the tail but still much lower than in the surrounding cluster region. They found out that the head is cooler than the tail, possibly due to a dense cool core.

The researchers also tried to determine the chemical composition of this comet-like galaxy.

"Despite the large uncertainties, there might be indications that the tail has a much lower abundance of heavy elements than the head of the comet, which is again consistent with the head being the remnant of a cool core," the paper reads.

The curious case of CGCG254-021 could bring important results in the field of cosmology and could improve our understanding about galaxy clusters. The crucial role in the stripping process as seen in this comet-shaped galaxy is played by the intracluster medium (ICM). It is a very hot plasma located at the center of a . This plasma is enriched with heavy elements, such as iron. The researchers believe that the interaction of the ICM with subclusters or galaxy groups can produce bright X-rays and long tails such as the elongated tail described in this study.

"Halo gas and the cold inter stellar medium (ISM) from the galaxy can then be stripped and interact with the ICM. Part of the gas from the galaxy is then used for new stars, either in the galactic halo or outside the galaxy in the ICM," the researchers note.

They point out that the amount of gas that apparently has been stripped from the galaxy is very high; the galaxy could lose almost all of its gas to the ICM. If the researchers are able to confirm this through the analysis of a longer observation, there would be a chance to study in detail the properties of this interaction for such a luminous and massive object. They conclude that a deeper X-ray observation is needed to characterize more detailed properties as well as a definite scenario for the interaction history.

Explore further: Galaxy Cluster Abell 3627: Two Tails to Tell

More information: Astronomy & Astrophysics, www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2015/11/aa27317-15.pdf

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12 comments

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Bigbangcon
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2015
"Ambartsumian, Arp and the Breeding Galaxies": http://redshift.v...2MAL.pdf
jonesdave
4.3 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2015
"Ambartsumian, Arp and the Breeding Galaxies": http://redshift.v...2MAL.pdf


More pseudoscientific b*llocks.
SuperThunder
5 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2015
What a neat image!

What is surprising is that the galaxy must have lost all of its X-ray emitting gas very recently.

Even around its black hole? What does that?
plasmasrevenge
1 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2015
So, I guess we're supposed to assume that this "tail" is fundamentally different from the ubiquitous filaments observed by Herschel to exist on all astronomical scales of the universe, and it certainly can't have anything at all to do with the filaments we observe in plasma laboratories. That would just be ignorant.
Captain Stumpy
4.5 / 5 (8) Nov 07, 2015
it certainly can't have anything at all to do with the filaments we observe in plasma laboratories
@plasma
1- http://ocw.mit.ed...ophysics

http://www.pppl.g...ducation

https://www.cfa.h...sics.pdf

2- (especially true today considering the internet and links like above) http://media-cach...f521.jpg

matt_s
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 08, 2015
@Plasma, considering your argument is just hand-waving, yes.
plasmasrevenge
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 08, 2015
Re: "considering your argument is just hand-waving, yes."

Ah, yes. Definitely does NOT remind me of the hand-wavy claim that only a metaphysical Big Bang can explain microwaves coming at us from all directions. Nevermind that the universe's most common state for matter naturally produces synchrotron microwaves in the laboratory when it conducts, and that the only hurdle remaining is to explain why that synchrotron is observed to be thermalized into a bell curve.

Such a difficult problem to solve. Absolutely impossible that anybody would ever figure it out using plasma physics principles.
SuperThunder
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 08, 2015
Nevermind that the universe's most common state for matter naturally produces synchrotron microwaves in the laboratory when it conducts, and that the only hurdle remaining is to explain why that synchrotron is observed to be thermalized into a bell curve.

That's quite a claim about dark matter, please build a starship engine ASAP!
bschott
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 09, 2015
Nevermind that the universe's most common state for matter naturally produces synchrotron microwaves in the laboratory when it conducts, and that the only hurdle remaining is to explain why that synchrotron is observed to be thermalized into a bell curve.

That's quite a claim about dark matter, please build a starship engine ASAP!


He was talking about the universe we live in...not the mathverse.
Bigbangcon
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 09, 2015
@bschott

"the universe we live in...not the mathverse."

The "matheverse" is a new but appropriate term for modern official cosmology and I like it! "Space and time are modes in which we think, not conditions in which we exist." Albert Einstein.

Please see the following link to the recent Guardian article; specially the comments by "futurehuman".
http://www.thegua...comments

jonesdave
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 09, 2015
@bschott

"the universe we live in...not the mathverse."

The "matheverse" is a new but appropriate term for modern official cosmology and I like it! "Space and time are modes in which we think, not conditions in which we exist." Albert Einstein.

Please see the following link to the recent Guardian article; specially the comments by "futurehuman".
http://www.thegua...comments



How about linking to *actual* science, instead of press reports? Got any papers showing EU garbage to be true? No, didn't think so. Back in your box. Leave science to those that are actually qualified, and understand it. Bye Bye.
Hat1208
not rated yet Nov 10, 2015
@plasmarevenge

Nevermind that the universe's most common state for matter naturally produces synchrotron microwaves in the laboratory when it conducts

What is the significance of synchrotron microwaves? Is this a misnomer for radiation?

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