Description: This composite image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745 (MACSJ0717, for short) where four separate galaxy clusters have been involved in a collision –the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. In this composite image, data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal the cluster’s hot gas, while an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the individual galaxies in the system. The hot gas in this image is color-coded to show temperature, where the coolest gas is reddish purple, the hottest gas is blue, and the temperatures in between are purple.

Creator/Photographer: Chandra X-ray Observatory

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Medium: Chandra telescope x-ray

Date: 2009

Persistent URL: chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/macs/

Repository: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Gift line: X-ray (NASA/CXC/IfA/C. Ma et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI/IfA/C. Ma et al.)

Accession number: MACSJ0717