Phoenix Cluster

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The Phoenix Cluster (SPT-CL J2344-4243) is a massive, type I galaxy cluster located at its namesake constellation, the southern constellation of Phoenix. It was initially detected in 2010 using the Sunyaev–Zel'dovich effect by the South Pole Telescope collaboration.[3]

Phoenix Cluster
SPT-CLJ2344–4243 (Phoenix Cluster) Chandra.jpg
SPT-CLJ2344–4243 (Phoenix Cluster) Chandra
Observation data (Epoch J2000.0[1])
Right ascension23h 44m 40.9s[1]
Declination−42° 41′ 54″[1]
Redshift0.597 [2]
5.7 billion light years
Binding mass1.26–2.5×1015[2] M
Other designations
Phoenix Cluster, SPT-CL J 2344 -4243, SPT-CL J2344-4243[3]
See also: Galaxy group, Galaxy cluster, List of galaxy groups and clusters

It is one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, with the mass on the order of 2×1015 M.[2] Most of the mass of the Phoenix Cluster is in the form of dark matter and its intracluster medium. The vast stellar halo of the Phoenix Cluster central galaxy extends to over 1.1 million light years from the center, making it one of the largest galaxies known. It is 22 times the diameter of our galaxy, and its starburst activity suggests that the galaxy is still growing larger.

The Phoenix Cluster is also producing more X-rays than any other known massive cluster.[2]

Central galaxyEdit

The central elliptical cD galaxy of this cluster hosts an active galactic nucleus, which is powered by a central supermassive black hole. The central black hole has an estimated mass on the order of 20 billion M.[2] This makes it one of the most massive black holes known in the universe, 5,000 times the mass of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The diameter of the black hole's immense event horizon is on the order of 118 billion kilometers, 19 times the distance from the Sun to Pluto, and has the mass equivalent to that of two dwarf galaxies. The central black hole is devouring matter and growing at a rate of 60 M every year.

The galaxy contains vast amounts of hot gas. More normal matter is present there than the total of all the other galaxies in the cluster. Data from observations indicate that hot gas is cooling in the central regions at a rate of 3,820 solar masses per year, the highest ever recorded.[2]

It is also undergoing a massive starburst, the highest recorded in the middle of a galaxy cluster, although other galaxies at higher redshifts have a higher starburst rate. (see Baby Boom Galaxy) [4] Observations by a variety of telescopes including the GALEX and Herschel space telescopes shows that it has been converting the material to stars at an exceptionally high rate of 740 M per year.[2] This is considerably higher than that of NGC 1275 A, the central galaxy of the Perseus Cluster, where stars are formed at a rate around 20 times lower, or the one per year rate of star formation in the Milky Way.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "NAME Phoenix Cluster". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g M. McDonald, et al.; "A Massive, Cooling-Flow Induced Starburst in the Core of a Highly Luminous Galaxy Cluster", Nature, Aug 2012
  3. ^ a b R. Williamson, et al.; "An SZ-selected sample of the most massive galaxy clusters in the 2500-square-degree South Pole Telescope survey", arXiv, 6 January 2011, arXiv:1101.1290
  4. ^ Min Yun et al.; "Deep 1.1 mm-wavelength imaging of the GOODS-South field by AzTEC/ASTE – II. Redshift distribution and nature of the submillimetre galaxy population", arXiv, 28 September 2011, arXiv:1109.6286
  5. ^ S. Borenstein (August 16, 2012), Associated Press (ed.), "Star births seen on cosmic scale in distant galaxy", R&D Magazine,, archived from the original on February 1, 2013, retrieved September 13, 2012

External linksEdit

Coordinates:   23h 23m 40.9s, −42° 41′ 54″