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A newly discovered galaxy cluster has been nicknamed El Gordo which means the "big" or "fat one" in Spanish. It consists of two separate galaxy subclusters colliding at several million miles per hour and is so far away that its light has traveled for seven billion years to reach us. This is the most massive, the hottest, and gives off the most X-rays of any cluster found so far at this distance or beyond.
"El Gordo" was studied by an international team using European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert in Chile along with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope.
The research team, led by Chilean and Rutgers astronomers, found El Gordo by detecting a distortion of the cosmic microwave background radiation. This radiation is the remnant of the first light from the Big Bang, the extremely hot and dense origin of the Universe about 13.7 billion years ago.
Although a cluster of El Gordo's immense size and distance is very rare, the authors say that the new results are still consistent with astronomers’ current understanding of a Universe that started with a Big Bang and is mostly made of dark matter and dark energy.
The monster galaxy cluster has mass of about 2 quadrillion (that's 2 followed by 15 zeroes) Suns, making it the most massive known cluster in the distant universe. The formal name of "El Gordo" is ACT-CL J0102-4915, the first part of the name shows that it is a galaxy cluster found using data from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope and the second part indicates the location of the object on the sky, in the southern constellation of Phoenix.
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