JAXA’s XRISM mission provides a groundbreaking image of the Abell 2319 galaxy cluster, using X-ray and visible light to reveal its intricate structure and dynamics, enhancing our cosmic understanding.
This pioneering, single-shot image is one of the first from JAXA’s XRISM mission. It shows a nearby cluster of galaxies called Abell 2319, unveiling its detailed structure. In purple we see X-ray light measured by XRISM; this light is emitted by million-degree gas that permeates between the galaxies in the cluster.
The uneven structure of the purple glow is likely a sign that the gas is being stirred and sloshed over very large scales. The gas cloud is probably also shaped by the past effects of a super-massive black hole that lay at the center of the galaxy cluster. Xtend’s unique ability to capture the entire cluster in a single shot promises a significant step forward in our understanding of the large-scale structure of the Universe.
The image from XRISM (shown in purple) has been overlaid on a visible-light image from a ground-based telescope. Many of the orange blobs in the visible-light image are galaxies that form part of the cluster.
The XRISM image was taken with the mission’s Xtend instrument, which uses a CCD camera to image extended X-ray emitting celestial sources and their surroundings. Xtend covers a large field of view, which is key to ensuring that extended structures in the sky such as galaxy clusters, individual galaxies in the nearby Universe, and supernova remnants can be imaged effectively. Xtend images also provide a broader counterpart to the high-resolution spectra gathered by XRISM’s Resolve instrument.
XRISM (X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) is a collaborative space observatory project between JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NASA. Designed to study the universe through X-ray wavelengths, XRISM’s primary goal is to provide unprecedented insight into the energetic processes of the cosmos. It features advanced X-ray spectrometers that allow scientists to observe and analyze phenomena like black holes, neutron stars, and galaxy clusters in more detail than ever before.