Galaxy Discovery Will Lead to Better Understanding of Universe

An international team of astronomers and NASA announced the discovery of a huge galaxy cluster more than 6 billion light years from Earth which will help in understanding how galaxies form and evolve.

The cluster of galaxies, called Phoenix after being found in the Phoenix constellation, will provide new insight into how large cosmic formations change over time and the subsequent effects on the universe.

The findings will be published Aug. 16 in the journal Nature and have astronomers and astrophysicists excited about what this means for deep space research.

"This discovery in the Phoenix Cluster suggests a whole new twist to … how massive galaxies at the center of galaxy clusters grow," Michael McDonald, researcher at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and lead author of the research paper, said in a press release.

"It allows for another mechanism for the growth of these galaxies. It opens up a whole new area of research," he added.

The galaxy cluster was discovered during a survey by the South Pole Telescope and it was shortly known thereafter that this was a different kind of cluster, but researchers stated that it will still take many months to analyze all the data.

"The Phoenix Cluster stood out as having very high X-ray emission from its center, so much that it made the entire cluster the most luminous X-ray cluster ever observed," Bradford Benson, researcher at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and co-author of the paper, explained.

There had been a longstanding belief that galaxy clusters were dead or dying, but these new findings go against those ideas because researchers stated that initial data examination showed new star formations.

"We're going to try to find more clusters, either like this or unlike this. The reason is that it's really hard to draw any conclusion based on one galaxy cluster. So while this is exciting, it doesn't necessarily tell us about the overall evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters," McDonald stated in a press release.