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ISRO's Astrosat spacecraft captures stunning image of massive galaxy cluster

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Six of the galaxies in galaxy cluster 'Abell 2256' as captured by Astrosat. Image credit: UVIT team/ISRO/CSA

BENGALURU (BNS): Indian space agency ISRO’s dedicated space observatory Astrosat has taken the brilliant image of ‘Abell 2256’ – a special galaxy cluster located at a distance of over 800 million light years from Earth.

The ultraviolet images, released by the space agency on July 2, show the galaxy cluster ‘Abell 2256’ which is, in fact, made up of three separate clusters of galaxies that are all merging with each other, and will form a single massive cluster in future.

The three merging clusters in ‘Abell 2256’ contain more than 500 galaxies, and the cluster is almost 100 times larger and more than 1,500 times as massive as our own galaxy, the Milky Way, according to ISRO.

This merger has produced a rich diversity of structures that have been imaged in radio wavelengths by every radio telescope in the world, the space agency said.

The ‘Abell 2256’ cluster contains galaxies spread over a large area and ISRO scientists have zoomed in on six of these galaxies to capture the ultraviolet images.

Galaxy clusters are places where many spiral galaxies transform slowly into lenticular and elliptical galaxies. Spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, are bluer in colour and are forming stars constantly. Elliptical and lenticular galaxies however, are redder and have mainly old stars in them. ‘Abell 2256’ is one such galaxy cluster where many galaxies are going through this metamorphosis, according to ISRO.

The space agency has released the new images as the AstroSat Picture of the Month (APOM) which is the most distant APOM so far.

Astrosat has previously captured individual galaxies, two galaxies merging with each other, and even a lone galaxy falling into a cluster of other galaxies.

The spacecraft was launched as India’s first Multi Wavelength Space Observatory in September 2015 to study different parts of the Universe.


ISRO  Galaxy  Space  Universe  Astrosat  India  Milky Way  Earth  
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