Enormous Gas Filament Connects Galaxy Clusters
For the first time, ESA’s Planck space telescope has detected a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters 10 million light-years apart. Abell 399 and Abell 401, each containing hundreds of galaxies, are billions of light years away. The presence of hot gas linking them had already been hinted at in X-ray data from ESA’s XMM-Newton, but is now confirmed.
In the early universe, filaments of gaseous matter pervaded the cosmos in a giant web, with clusters eventually forming in the densest nodes. The gas that remains is easiest to spot between interacting galaxy clusters, where the filaments are compressed and heated up.