Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

August 31, 1998

A3827: Galactic Cannibal
Credit: Michael West (St. Mary's U.), ESO 1-m Telescope

Explanation: It was mealtime in galaxy cluster Abell 3827. The hungry cluster dominant galaxy in A3827's centre is seen being fed. Breakfast included five smaller galaxies unfortunate enough to wander too close to the cluster's central supergiant galaxy. The remnants of these five galaxies can be seen in the centre of this false-colour picture. A single massive galaxy dominates the centres of many compact clusters of galaxies. A3827 is so distant, having a redshift of 0.1, that light takes about 1.5 billion years to get here from there. We are therefore seeing this cluster only as it existed 1.5 billion years ago, so that these five galaxies are probably by now all digested into the huge cluster centre.

Tomorrow's picture: Colourful Aurora

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