MessageToEagle.com - Abell 2256 is a rich, nearby galaxy cluster that has significant evidence of merger activity and
has recently been the target of many new deep low-frequency high-resolution radio interferometric studies.
The cluster continues to play a central role in detailed astronomical studies of merging clusters and
the connection to diffuse radio emission.
Recently, international LOFAR Telescope (The Low Frequency Array) centred around the tiny village of Exloo, Netherlands
helped astronomers to study the formation of the galaxy cluster Abell 2256.
This cluster of hundreds of galaxies, is located at a distance of about 900 million light-years, in the constellation
Ursa Minor. It contains over 500 galaxies, with NGC 6331 as the brightest at magnitude 12.8.
"The structure we see in the radio images made with LOFAR provides us with information about the
origin of this cluster," explains lead author Reinout van Weeren (Leiden University and ASTRON).
LOFAR has made the first images of Abell 2256 in the frequency range of 20 to 60 MHz.
What came as a surpriseto scientists was that the cluster of galaxies was brighter and more complex than expected.
"We think that galaxy clusters form by mergers and collisions of smaller clusters," says Reinout van Weeren.
Abell 2256 is a prime example of a cluster that is currently undergoing a collision. The radio emission is produced
by tiny elementary particles that move nearly at the speed of light. With LOFAR it is possible to study how these
particles get accelerated to such speeds.
Image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2256 at 60 MHz made with LOFAR. Credit: ASTRON/R. J. van Weeren
"In particular, we will learn how this acceleration takes place in regions measuring more than 10 million light years
across," says Dr. Gianfranco Brunetti from IRA-INAF in Bologna, Italy, who together with Prof. Marcus Brüggen from
the Jacobs University in Bremen, coordinates the LOFAR work on galaxy clusters.
At the heart of the LOFAR telescope is a collection of tile-like and dipole antennas. Photo Credits: Lofar/Astron
LOFAR was built by a large international consortium led by the Netherlands and which includes Germany, France, the
United Kingdom and Sweden.
One of the main goals of LOFAR is to survey the entire northern sky at low radio frequencies, with a sensitivity
and resolution about 100 times better than what has been previously done. Scientists believe that this survey will
discover more than 100 million objects in the distant universe.
"Soon we will start our systematic surveys of the sky that will lead to great discoveries," says Prof. Huub
Röttgering from Leiden University, Principal Investigator of the LOFAR Survey Key Project.
The study will be published in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The research involved a large team
of scientists from 26 different universities and research institutes, among them Onsala Space Observatory.
@ MessageToEagle.com via Chalmers/Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden
A Remarkable Rectangular-Looking Galaxy
Astronomers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Finland— report the discovery of an interesting and rare, rectangular-shaped galaxy located at a distance of 21 Mpc.
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In the universe around us, the overwhelming majority of bright galaxies exist in one of three main forms.
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