Space scientists have discovered the hottest place known in the universe where temperatures reach an amazing 300 million degrees C.
A cloud of searing gas is surrounding a swarm of galaxies clustered together five billion light-years away in the constellation of Virgo.
The cosmic hotspot was detected by an X-ray telescope board a Japanese satellite called Suzaku. The cluster of galaxies, labelled RXJ1347, is five million light-years wide.
Scientists combined their results with X-ray images taken by NASA’s Chandra space telescope to reveal that the record-breaking gas is contained within an area 450,000 light-years wide that is shining like a spot light.
Astronomers are puzzled because the gas is many times hotter than any observed in galaxies before. By comparison, the centre of the sun is burning at “only” 15 million degrees C.
Their best bet to explain the gas’s searing temperatures is that the galaxies collided violently with another swarm of galaxies at a speed of 2,500 miles per second.
Assistant Professor Naomi Ota of the Tokyo University of Science said: “This is a terrible event. These collisions of galaxy clusters are the most violent celestial events in terms of energy since the Big Bang.” Read more of her report here.
• Discover space for yourself and do fun science with a telescope. Here is Skymania’s advice on how to choose a telescope. We also have a guide to the different types of telescope available.