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Universes Densest Galaxy Cluster Discovered

An international team of scientists has located one of the densest clusters of galaxies in the universe.The team, led by Mauro Sereno of the University of Bologna, used gravitational lensing to probe galaxy cluster PSZ2 G099.86+58.45.Described by Sereno as “the best candidate to target,” PSZ2 lies at the center of a very large field, allowing the lensing signal to reach a large radii. The “gravitational lens” effect, affording to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), happens when the mass of a cluster and its surroundings bend light from very distant galaxies and change their shape.“This study shows that the density of matter around the cluster we studied is up to six times greater than expected,” Sereno said in a statement.While it took “just a few minutes” to measure, the group spent weeks determining whether this was a fluke.“Astronomers can be very [critical] and they are mostly [critical] toward their own work,” the researcher wrote in a blog post. “Or at least, they should be. Or at the very least, I am.”Using X-ray emission, cosmology, numerical simulations, and optical spectroscopy, Sereno & Co. checked for every possible systematic error. But the signal proved true, and the team successfully revealed one of the highest-density nodes of the cosmic web.Six years in the making, their results were published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy.“Astronomy can be a lot of fun, you can be really free to make your mind wonder,” Sereno said. “Astronomy is sharing, too. Our work was mostly based on public archives, provided by people who make their work available to the whole community.”There is, as always, more work to be done. But, as IAC researcher Antonio Ferragamo pointed out, this marks “another small step forward,” toward understanding dark matter and how it is distributed across the cosmic web of the universe.“The research I enjoy the most comes from unannounced ideas,” Sereno said. “Most of the time, that genius idea you had is just a reminder that you should go to bed earlier, but sometimes you find something.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Supercomputer Generates Virtual Universes to Study Galaxy FormationNASA’s Spitzer Telescope Spots Whirlpool ‘Warhol’ Galaxy Stay on target read more