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 XMM-Newton Home > Gallery Home > Interaction of Galaxies > Clusters of Galaxies > Abell 3266

Great comet-like ball of gas in Abell 3266

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Minimum credit line: Image courtesy of A. Finoguenov, University of Maryland (UMBC); Max-Planck Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik and ESA. (for details, see Conditions of Use).

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About this Image

A comet-like ball of gas (shown in orange) is moving through a cluster of galaxies known as Abell 3266. Using a mosaic of nine XMM-Newton EPIC exposures, an entropy map of the gas was produced. Entropy is a measure of the disorder of the gas. The gas ball is about 3 million light years across (5 billion times the size of our solar system), the largest ever seen, and is moving through the cluster at over 750 km s-1. The head of the comet-like feature is seen in red in the lower right and the tail extends outwards towards the upper left. Gravity from dark matter in the ball holds it together, but the gravity from the surrounding galaxies opposes it and pulls gas off the ball, leaving a comet-like tail trailing behind, almost half the angular size of our moon as seen from Earth.

Investigator(s):  A. Finoguenov, M. J. Henriksen, F. Miniati, U. G. Briel, C. Jones

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Last update: 09-Oct-2013 by