Chandra X-ray and VLA Radio composite image of M87
Credit: A. J. Young, A. S. Wilson, and C. G. Mundell, The Astrophysical Journal, 2002, vol. 579, pg. 560

Multi-color Cluster

Galaxy clusters are the largest coherent structures of visible matter known. The Virgo cluster, the galaxy cluster which is closest to the Milky Way, has been an object of intense study for astronomers who want to understand the dynamics of these clusters, and to understand how the individual galaxies interact with their neighbors and with the material between galaxies. The Chandra X-ray observatory has now provided the most detailed image of the Virgo cluster and the giant elliptical radio galaxy, M87, which lies at the core of the cluster and which probably houses a supermassive black hole. A color composite of the Chandra X-ray image and a radio image of M87 is shown above. The X-ray image (in the 0.5-7 keV band) is red/yellow, while the radio emission is shown in blue. The regions which emit both in X-ray and radio wavelengths are white. This image shows that the cool radio and hot X-ray gas are well correlated in a circular region at the center of M87, while hot X-ray emitting gas trace the inner part of a radio jet which extends out from the center of the galaxy. Detailed analysis of these images suggest that the activity in the core of the galaxy has a direct bearing on the matter between the neighboring galaxies.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified November 2, 2002