• ESA spotted a bridge linking two galaxy clusters
  • Abell 2384's bridge was formed after the clusters' collision
  • A supermassive black hole is bending the bridge

The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently observing a cosmic bridge that was formed following the collision between two massive galaxy clusters. According to the ESA, the bridge is being bent out of shape by a supermassive black hole in one of the clusters.

The system of galaxy clusters is known as Abell 2384. It is located about 1.2 billion light-years from Earth’s neighborhood.

According to the ESA, Abell 2384 was formed after the collision between two galaxy clusters containing about hundreds to thousands of galaxies each. As the two clusters passed through each other, they left behind a trail of hot gas that formed a bridge between them. The agency noted that the bridge is about three million light-years long.

The ESA was able to observe the two galaxy clusters and their bridge using the data collected by various observatories such as the XMM-Newton, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India, the Digitized Sky Survey and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

“In this case, the two galaxy clusters collided and then passed through each other, releasing a flood of hot gas from each cluster that formed an unusual bridge between the two objects,” the ESA explained.

“The X-ray view from XMM-Newton and Chandra is shown in blue, alongside observations in radio waves performed with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India (shown in red) and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey (shown in yellow),” the agency continued.

According to the ESA, the bridge connecting the northern and southern galaxy clusters is being bent out of shape due to the presence of a supermassive black hole.

As explained by the agency, a supermassive black hole within the southern galaxy cluster is shooting powerful jets of radio waves. ESA noted that the supermassive black hole’s emissions are powerful enough to bend the bridge.

“The new multi-wavelength view reveals the effects of a jet shooting away from a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy in one of the clusters,” the ESA stated. “The jet is so powerful that it is bending the shape of the gas bridge, which has a mass equivalent to about six trillion Suns.”

Abell 2384
A composite view of the Abell 2384 system, comprising two galaxy clusters located 1.2 billion light years from Earth. NASA/CXC/SAO/V.Parekh, et al. & ESA/XMM-Newton