In astronomy this week: A gargantuan supercluster of galaxies lurks in the early universe, while data from the Fermi telescope at two supermassive black holes locked in a gravitational dance.
A Colossal Galaxy Supercluster in the Early Universe
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L. Calçada (ESO) / O. Cucciati et al. 2018
The most massive structures in the universe are superclusters, complex webs of galaxies spanning hundreds of millions of light-years. Now, researchers have identified what may be a gargantuan predecessor to modern superclusters.
The light from this proto-supercluster takes about 11 billion years to reach Earth, so astronomers see it as it was roughly 2.8 billion Years after the Big Bang. The discoverers nicknamed it Hyperion, after one of the Titans from Greek mythology. Seven galaxy clusters, ranging in mass from 10 trillion to 270 trillion Suns, appear to be roughly 20 million trillion billion cubic light-years of space.
Olga Cucciati (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy) and colleagues discovered the supercluster in data from the VIMOS Ultra Deep Survey, a project to obtain redshifts of roughly 10,000 faint galaxies using the Very Large Telescope in Chile.
The Astronomy & Astrophysics Wobbly Gamma Rays from a Far-Flung Galaxy
A pair of supermassive black holes whipping around one another could
In 2015, researchers working with NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected the development of a periodic modulation of gamma ray s emitted by a galaxy designated PG 1553 + 113, which sits nearly 5 billion light-years away. Now, by analyzing 10 years of Fermi data, astronomers confirm that this is the intensity of those gamma rays to waver every 2.2 years. X-rays and radio waves.
Stefano Ciprini (Italian Space Agency, Rome) and colleagues announced their finding at October 17th press conference.
By blazing gas swirling around a pair of supermassive black holes, the researchers argue. As the black holes orbit each other, fountains of gamma rays precess, alternately pointing towards us and then leaning away. The researchers do caution, however, that interpretation is just one possibility. However, a pair of supermassive black holes does live in this galaxy, it could be a good target for the European Space Agency's eLISA satellite, a gravitational-wave detector scheduled to launch in 2034.