XMM-Newton captures a massive galaxy cluster aglow in X-rays

With a total mass of some 500 trillion suns, the galaxy cluster XLSSC006 contains several hundred galaxies embedded in vast amounts of dark matter and huge reservoirs of X-ray bright gas heated to extreme temperatures. The European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory captured that glow, shown here in purple, which was then combined with optical and near-infrared data from the Canada=France-Hawaii Telescope to include a multitude of other galaxies, some closer to the Milky Way and some much farther away.

The galaxies making up XLSSC006 are concentrated near the centre where two dominant members may be in the process of merging. The observations are part of the XXL Survey, which now includes 365 galaxy clusters, helping astronomers map their large-scale distribution in a bid to learn more about the structure and evolution of the universe.

A massive galaxy cluster glows in X-rays, seen here in purple, in a view captured by ESA’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, combined with optical and near-infrared data from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Image: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); CFHT-LS (optical); XXL Survey