Editor's Summary

21 August 2008

Galactic filaments: survival in a hostile environment

Images from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal remarkable detail in the bright filaments of ionized gas that stream out from the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 1275 at the centre of the Perseus galaxy cluster. How these filaments have remained stable — they are thought to be at least 108 years old — despite the disruptive effects of tidal shear forces and extremely hot (4times107 K) surrounding gases has been unclear. The Hubble images now resolve thread-like structures within the filaments. These may indicate the presence of magnetic fields in pressure balance with the surrounding gas, capable of stabilizing the filaments and allowing the accumulation of a large mass of cold gas that could have delayed star formation.

AuthorsMaking the paper: Andrew Fabian

Giant galaxy's filamentous structure is held stable by magnetic fields.


LetterMagnetic support of the optical emission line filaments in NGC 1275

A. C. Fabian, R. M. Johnstone, J. S. Sanders, C. J. Conselice, C. S. Crawford, J. S. Gallagher III & E. Zweibel