The galaxy cluster Abell 2052 is in a bit of a swirl.
The cluster is located at 489 million light years from Earth (z=0.03549) in the direction of the constellation Serpens – The Serpent. Abell 2052 contains many galaxies with the brightest being UGC 9799, that also has a Seyfert 2 class AGN.
The main image is a combination of X-ray data obtained by NASA’s Chandra Space Observatory and optical data from the ESO’s VLT.
X-ray data is displayed in blue, and shows hot gas at temperatures of around 30 million Kelvin, optical information is displayed in gold.
The large spiral of this superheated material in the centre of the image, which spans over one million light years in reality, was produced when a smaller galaxy cluster collided with the larger main cluster, throwing gas and dust outwards whilst heating it.
The smaller cluster passed through the main cluster several times under the action of gravity, with a spiral pattern being formed as the collisions were off centre – a perfectly lined up series of collisions would have produced a collisional ring.
The disturbance of the material has several effects on the galaxies:
- Cooler, denser gas is thrown outwards – this limits the ability of the material left in the core to cool and contract, thus limiting star formation
- Heavier elements such as Iron, Nitrogen and Oxygen are distributed throughout the region perhaps helping to stimulate the production of planets, and further down the line, life
You can read more here
 A description of how to interpret the z variable is pending. The distance estimate used in the post was calculated using WolframAlpha
 A detailed explanation on the various types of AGN is pending. Data for UGC 9799 was obtained using SIMBAD
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