Although the Phoenix Galaxy was discovered a few years ago, scientists only recently discovered that this galaxy is creating stars at an astonishing rate of about 740 per earth year, or two new stars every day.
Stars are forming in the Phoenix cluster at the highest rate ever observed for the middle of a galaxy cluster. The object also is the most powerful producer of X-rays of any known cluster and among the most massive. The data also suggest the rate of hot gas cooling in the central regions of the cluster is the largest ever observed.
The Phoenix cluster is located about 5.7 billion light years from Earth. It is named not only for the constellation in which it is located, but also for its remarkable properties.
“While galaxies at the center of most clusters may have been dormant for billions of years, the central galaxy in this cluster seems to have come back to life with a new burst of star formation,” said Michael McDonald, a Hubble Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the lead author of a paper appearing in the Aug. 16 issue of the journal Nature. “The mythology of the Phoenix, a bird rising from the dead, is a great way to describe this revived object.”
This fascinates me. What caused this star cluster suddenly to become infused with life? And I can’t help but wonder what it means for us earthlings if this actually reflects a sudden shift in Universal energies powerful enough to begin generating stars at this “frenetic” rate.