A new study of a huge wave of cool gas splashing through a distant galaxy pile has revealed a surprise about its shape that changes what we understand about cosmic weather.
This "cold front" is estimated at about 5 billion years, so that one could imagine a bit blurred at the edges. Since detailed imaging still has very sharp boundaries, astronomers need to rethink how these cosmic weather patterns form.
Data from the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory were used to generate a detailed temperature map of a 2 million light spectrum. Years of gas cloud through the Perseus galaxy cluster ̵
The sheer scale of the wave may be overwhelming, but the physics behind it is more or less a pinned-up version of the types of vortices and waves we see when two fluids slide past each other.
Called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, they appear as whirlpools where liquids touch at different speeds – not unlike the milk swirls in your coffee.
Small clusters of galaxies that have plunged into the Perseus Cluster for billions of years have contributed to a huge cosmic metropolis of 11 million light-years. Some leave their mark in Kelvin-Helmholtz waves as they whip through the neighbor's hood
Just last year, a concentration of twice as hot gas was detected in the Perseus Cluster, thanks to data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory ,
The wave of this new study was first observed in 2012. Not only is it much smaller than the 2017 discovery, it also contains a cold front that is 50 million degrees colder than its surroundings.
Mind you, with "seething" 30 million degrees, "cold" is still relative.
These hot and cold fronts are remnants of the early days of the Cluster, a time when a handful of galaxies clustered into a core surrounded by multiple materials.
As a steady rain of galaxies clashed these cold-hearted stripes, these regions swirled and formed huge waves of hot and cold spots.
The colossal scale of these events means that even though they travel hundreds of thousands of miles per hour, they have spit out billions of years
Astronomers therefore expected the edges to be quite diffuse now, as the gases are very good different forms of space weather.
What they saw was anything but blurry.
The combination of information from the Chandra X-ray Observatory with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and the old German Roentgen satellite (ROSAT) enabled the team to map this map of the different temperature zones
 Not only were the edges still crisp, there was a clear cleavage in the leading edge of the cold front.
The most likely cause of this baby-smooth skin is a phenomenon called magnetic draping, which was previously proposed for similar sharp edges, similar cavities and concentrations in galaxy clusters.
As the pressure of the moving cold gas pushes and pulls through intergalactic plasma clouds, it sweeps up a magnetic shell that builds up strength.
It is this magnetized mantle that helps to keep the warmer gases out of touch. The cooler core of the wave, which gets the two temperatures for a longer period of time
Watch the video clip to get a picture of it
The researchers suggested that the large cleavage at the edge of the cold front could be the result of a dense, low entropy gas falling out of the shaft ".
So far, mathematical models have supported the hypothesis, with new data also helping astronomers determine the exact strength of the magnetic envelope of the wave.
Now that astronomers have discovered the role of magnetic drapery in shaping the gradual propagation of gas and energy in clusters of galaxies, they can also refine their understanding of evolution from the most massive structures of the universe.
This research was published in Nature Astronomy .