Researchers at MIT Reveal a Sprawling Galaxy Cluster which was Hiding in Plain Sight

Researchers at MIT Reveal a Sprawling Galaxy Cluster which was Hiding in Plain Sight

A bright galaxy remained hidden for years despite being extremely bright.

Researchers have had a hunger to explore what is out there for ages. Space has always been a mystery even after all the research we have done on our surroundings. There are billions of entities that are unknown to humans yet their hunger for knowledge of their universe is growing. By research, it has been identified that there are around one hundred billion galaxies in the entire universe. According to a recent discovery made by the scientists at the MIT, there existed a cluster of galaxies hiding in plain sight. This cluster exists approximately 2.4 billion light-years away from Earth. This cluster houses hundreds of individual galaxies. Additionally, it surrounds a highly active supermassive black hole.

This cluster is as massive as 690 trillion suns. The scientists compared its mass to that of our milky way which is 400 billion solar masses. The center of this cluster was named as PKS1353-341. It is recorded to be extremely bright. The quasar situated at the center of this cluster is recorded to be 46 times brighter than our sun. It was verified that the reason behind its radiance is an immense disk of material swirls around a black hole which is known as ‘Temporary Feeding Frenzy’. These swirls are fed with big chunks of matter that fall into the quasar. This, in the result, discharges a great amount of energy that is displayed in the form of light. The Assistant Professor of Physics in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Michael McDonald, shed light on this phenomenon by saying,

“This might be a short-lived phase that clusters go through, where the central black hole has a quick meal, gets bright, and then fades away again. This could be a blip that we just happened to see. In a million years, this might look like a diffuse fuzzball.”

This opened gates for researchers to explore around with the concept that there may be some more clusters floating around somewhere in the universe. This came as an idea when they discovered the bright light was actually caused by the black hole situated in the cluster of galaxies. The idea began to form that the light radiations may have been surrounded by galaxies that were previously understood to be a singular light source. Additionally, scientists were riddled as they could not comprehend why this cluster, which was so effortlessly visible, has not been discovered before. The cluster is so bright and massive still it was absent to their eye. McDonald answered this query in the following words:

“It’s because we had preconceived notions of what a cluster should look like. And this didn’t conform to that, so we missed it.” 

The concept of the galaxy that floated around the researcher’s minds was also a disadvantage for them as they grasped the idea of clusters to be entirely “fluffy” which would provide a very weak signal in the X-ray band. However, contrary to their beliefs, the galaxy clusters were formed by sharp and pointed sources which have a great sum of active quasars. McDonald spoke about this concept and said,

“The images are either all points or fluffs, and the fluffs are these giant million-light-year balls of hot gas that we call clusters, and the points are black holes that are accreting gas and glowing as this gas spirals in.”

McDonald also mentioned the factors present in the clusters. Through research, it was known that the reason behind the brightness of the black hole is directly proportional to the mass of matter it is consuming. It has also been deliberated that contrary to the discovery of this cluster, it is still unidentified for how long this process has been cycling. This cluster not only has a suspicious past but additionally an unfamiliar future. 

Studying the enigmatic facts of this cluster has facilitated the scientists but at the same time, the unknown information has puzzled them as well. They have discussed that by discovering similar entities as this phenomenon they might be able to uncover the mysteries that have bewildered them. According to the finding at MIT, it has been confirmed that so far there exists only one of this marvel in the universe.

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