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Scientists are baffled by these radio wave sources in a far-off galaxy cluster

A research raises new questions about distant galaxy clusters.

August 08, 2022 / 11:27 AM IST
The Abell 3266 galaxy cluster. (Image credit: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society)

The Abell 3266 galaxy cluster. (Image credit: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society)

Scientists have detected some strange sources of radio waves within a galaxy cluster 800 million lightyears away. They say the objects seem to defy existing theories.

Their findings were unveiled last week in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society -- a peer-reviewed journal published by Oxford University on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Researchers, from countries including Australia, Italy, Switzerland and South Africa, studied the Abell 3266 galaxy cluster, finding within it "a radio fossil, radio relic and radio halo".

Fossil radio sources are "dying" sources that represent the end phase of radio galaxy evolution, the research paper said.

Relics, meanwhile, are radio sources located towards the outskirts of galaxy clusters.  Radio haloes are centrally-situated.


The objects were discovered using a complex algorithm applied to images captured by X-ray and radio telescopes.

The images showed the radio fossil as faint and red, an indicator of it being ancient.

"We believe this radio emission originally came from the galaxy at the lower left, with a central black hole that has long been switched off," researchers said in an article for The Conversation.

"Our best physical models simply can’t fit the data," they added. "This reveals gaps in our understanding of how these sources evolve – gaps that we’re working to fill."

In the radio relic, they observed features never seen before. One was its unlikely concave shape.

Researchers said the data they obtained "break our understanding" of the creation of relics. They added that they were still trying to make sense of the "complex physics" behind these radio sources.
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first published: Aug 8, 2022 11:23 am
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