In particle physics labs, like the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, scientists smash atoms together to study the underpinnings of matter and energy. On the scale of the macrocosm, nature provides a similar experiment by crashing clusters of galaxies together. Besides galaxies and gas, the galaxy clusters contain huge amounts of dark matter. Dark matter is a transparent form of matter that makes up most of the mass in the universe. During collisions, the clouds of gas enveloping the galaxies crash into each other and slow down or stop. Astronomers found that the dark matter continued straight through the violent collisions, without slowing down relative to the galaxies. Their best explanation is that the dark matter did not interact with visible particles, and it also interacted less frequently with other dark matter than previously thought. Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory to study 72 large galaxy cluster collisions. Chandra traced the hot gas, and Hubble saw how the invisible dark matter warps space and distorts the images of background stars. This allowed for the distribution of dark matter in the collision to be mapped. The finding narrows down the options for what this dark matter might be.
Bright spots on Ceres could be active ice
Nature 519, 7544 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2015.17139
Author: Alexandra Witze
Early data from Dawn spacecraft bring scientists closer to clearing up mystery about dwarf planet.
Wind from the black-hole accretion disk driving a molecular outflow in an active galaxy
Nature 519, 7544 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature14261
Authors: F. Tombesi, M. Meléndez, S. Veilleux, J. N. Reeves, E. González-Alfonso & C. S. Reynolds
Powerful winds driven by active galactic nuclei are often thought to affect the evolution of both supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, quenching star formation and explaining the close relationship between black holes and galaxies. Recent observations of large-scale molecular outflows in ultraluminous infrared galaxies support this quasar-feedback idea, because they directly trace the gas from which stars form. Theoretical models suggest that these outflows originate as energy-conserving flows driven by fast accretion-disk winds. Proposed connections between large-scale molecular outflows and accretion-disk activity in ultraluminous galaxies were incomplete because no accretion-disk wind had been detected. Conversely, studies of powerful accretion-disk winds have until now focused only on X-ray observations of local Seyfert galaxies and a few higher-redshift quasars. Here we report observations of a powerful accretion-disk wind with a mildly relativistic velocity (a quarter that of light) in the X-ray spectrum of IRAS F11119+3257, a nearby (redshift 0.189) optically classified type 1 ultraluminous infrared galaxy hosting a powerful molecular outflow. The active galactic nucleus is responsible for about 80 per cent of the emission, with a quasar-like luminosity of 1.5 × 1046 ergs per second. The energetics of these two types of wide-angle outflows is consistent with the energy-conserving mechanism that is the basis of the quasar feedback in active galactic nuclei that lack powerful radio jets (such jets are an alternative way to drive molecular outflows).
Galaxy formation: When the wind blows
Nature 519, 7544 (2015). doi:10.1038/519423a
Authors: James E. Geach
Astronomical observations of a luminous galaxy that has a central, mass-accreting supermassive black hole reveal how such entities launch and propel gas through galaxies at high speeds. See Letter p.436
Planetary science: Rings proposed for orbiting rock
Nature 519, 7544 (2015). doi:10.1038/519393a
An asteroid-sized rock orbiting between Saturn and Uranus may have a system of rings.Amanda Bosh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and her team observed the minor planet 2060 Chiron passing in front of a star, using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on