Japan's Suzaku observatory has made some findings about the mass and chemical content of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster which can potentially lead to better understanding of the evolution of the universe.
X-ray observations made by the observatory has provided the first direct evidence that million-degree gas clouds are tightly gathered in the cluster's outskirts, a NASA release said on Friday.
Understanding the content of normal matter in galaxy clusters is a key element for using these objects to study the evolution of the universe, Adam Mantz, a co-author of the paper at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said.
The Perseus Galaxy Cluster is located about 250 million light-years away. It is the brightest extended X-ray source beyond our own galaxy, and also the brightest and closest cluster in which Suzaku has attempted to map outlying gas.
The study of galaxy clusters provides important clues to cosmological values like the cosmic microwave background. Earlier, NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) had explored the cosmic microwave background, which is the remnant glow of the Big Bang. But data discrepancies still remained regarding the amount of baryons -- what physicists call normal matter in the universe. According to the WMAP findings, normal matter made up of about 4.6 percent of the universe. But according to previous studies galaxy clusters seemed to hold even fewer baryons than this amount.
The images from the Suzaku observatory have helped solve this discrepancy for the first time, NASA said.
Suzaku images of faint gas at the fringes of a nearby galaxy cluster have allowed astronomers to resolve this discrepancy for the first time, according to NASA.
The Suzaku observatory successfully mapped the gas outlying the Perseus Galaxy Cluster. Before Suzaku, our knowledge of the properties of this gas was limited to the innermost parts of clusters, where the X-ray emission is brightest, but this left a huge volume essentially unexplored, said Aurora Simionescu, the study's lead researcher.