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News Release 12-152

NSF's South Pole Telescope Discovers a Galaxy Cluster Creating Stars at a Record Pace

Researchers say Phoenix Cluster activity may cause scientists to rethink how galaxies evolve

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Photo of the Aurora Australis ove the 10-meter South Pole Telescope.

A galaxy cluster was discovered by this 10-meter wide South Pole Telescope, which is located at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica and funded by NSF's Office of Polar Programs. NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, through which it coordinates all U.S. research and required logistical support on the continent as well as aboard ships in the Southern Ocean.

Credit: Dr. Keith Vanderlinde [Any commercial use of this image requires photographer's permission.]

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Galaxy clusters, which are among the largest objects in the universe, contain enough hot gas to create detectable "shadows" in the light left over from the Big Bang, which also is known as the cosmic microwave background radiation. The cluster discovered by the South Pole Telescope (SPT) has been dubbed the "Phoenix Cluster" not only because it is located in the constellation of the Phoenix but also because of its remarkable properties. The Phoenix Cluster and its central galaxy and super-massive black hole are already among the most massive known objects of their type.

Credit: National Science Foundation