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DLSCL J0916.2+2951 Animations
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Tour of DLSCL J0916.2+2951
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Using a combination of powerful observatories in space and on the ground, astronomers have discovered a violent collision between two galaxy clusters. During this collision, so-called normal matter has been wrenched apart from dark matter through a violent collision between two galaxy clusters. We see the normal matter in the form of hot gas thanks to X-rays detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The location of the dark matter comes from optical data that reveal the effects of gravitational lensing, something Einstein predicted where large masses can distort the light from distant objects. The new galaxy cluster is called DLSCL J0916.2+2951. Rather than say that mouthful, researchers have nicknamed it the "Musket Ball Cluster." This name makes sense because this system is like an older and slower cousin to the famous Bullet Cluster. Finding another system that is further along in its evolution than the Bullet Cluster is very valuable. It gives scientists insight into a different phase of how galaxy clusters -- the largest known objects held together by gravity -- grow and change after major collisions.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)


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Archaeologists of the Universe
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Astronomers and archaeologists (like Indiana Jones) have a lot in common, as they both look for clues to understand past events. However, while archaeologists have to dig deep underground to find fossils and ruins, all astronomers have to do is look up to the night sky. That's because when we look at objects in the night sky, we are seeing them as they looked when the light they gave off started its long journey across the Universe to us!

This means that each view of the Universe reveals a snapshot of the Universe's history. Take this new picture, for example. It shows the aftermath of a collision between two huge groups of galaxies, which are called galaxy clusters. Following the collision, the galaxy clusters joined together to form what is now called the Musket Ball Cluster. In the picture, astronomers have colored some parts blue and pink to show where different types of material are found.

This isn't the first time that astronomers have spotted a collision of galaxy clusters. However, they only gave astronomers a snapshot of the aftermath of these collisions about 200 million years after impact. But this picture of the Musket Ball Cluster was taken about 700 million years after the collision.

This will give astronomers important clues about the long-term effects of such huge collisions. For example, astronomers still don't know if the collision of galaxy clusters will help or prevent new stars from forming, or if they have little effect.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/April Jubett)



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