Galaxy clusters caught in a first kiss

Two colliding clusters will merge into one bigger cluster

Image Credits: Public domain.

For the first time, astronomers have found two giant clusters of galaxies that are just about to collide.

This observation can be seen as a missing ‘piece of the puzzle’ in our understanding of the formation of structure in the universe, since large-scale structures—such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies—are thought to grow by collisions and mergers. The result was published in Nature Astronomy.

Clusters of galaxies are the largest known bound objects and consist of hundreds of galaxies that each contain hundreds of billions of stars. Ever since the Big Bang, these objects have been growing by colliding and merging with each other. Due to their large size, with diameters of a few million light years, these collisions can take about a billion years to complete. After the dust has settled, the two colliding clusters will have merged into one bigger cluster.

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