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Galaxy clash sheds light on Universe

Edinburgh astronomers are unpicking the debris of a massive intergalactic collision.

Scientists hope the study will enable fresh understanding of our Universe.

Researchers are using very powerful telescopes, including the Hubble, to study the aftermath of the collision, which took place over the past 350 million years.

Fresh insights

Scientists say the crash of galaxies, one of the most complex to be recorded, is revealing effects never seen before.

Their evidence provides new insights into the behaviour of dark matter.

Physicists are keen to understand dark matter, which is the most common material in the universe, but cannot be seen.

Researchers are obtaining X-Ray and thermal images of the collision, dubbed Pandora’s Cluster.

They are using the images to create a timeline of how the clash took place and how the various bodies, gases and dark matter involved interacted during the collisions.

Surprising results

Scientists were surprised at some of the phenomena found.

These included lumps of dark matter and clouds of gas that were thrown out of the crash in unexpected directions.

An international team of researchers is studying the cluster.

They are using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory, together with Japan’s Subaru telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.

The study is being published by the Royal Astronomical Society.

Pandora’s Cluster has unleashed a whole new range of phenomena, Dark matter normally holds galaxies together but in this case, it has flung them in all directions.

Dr Richard MasseySchool of Physics and Astronomy
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