Shortcut Navigation:

Scientists Spy Galactic “Traffic Jam"

Blog

Astronomers have spotted a rare, complex cosmic collision of four galaxy clusters 5.4 billion light-years from Earth. A spectacular composite image from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope revealed the pileup—and its likely source.

Galaxy Cluster Collision

This composite image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745, where four separate galaxy clusters have been involved in a collision, the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. Hot gas is shown in an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and galaxies are shown in an optical image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.)


A nearby filament of galaxies is driving the pileup. The hot gas shows that the filament is falling into the clusters causing the collisions and driving the cluster's evolution.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions