Our Milky Way galaxy is harboring somewhere between 100 billion and 200 billion stars. That can mean only one thing: the galaxy is incredibly big! According to the astronomers’ measurements, our Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of 100,000 light-years across. This means that a human lifetime isn’t enough to travel from one edge to another in a spacecraft that hurtles at the speed of light if such a machine would somehow be invented.
But out there in the Universe, there are other structures that are even bigger than a galaxy. Dozens of times bigger! We can consider galaxy clusters and superclusters, for instance. But what if two galaxy clusters collide with each other?.
Shockwave resulting from galaxies clusters’ collision is 60 times bigger than the Milky Way
According to SciTechDaily.com, two galaxy clusters collided roughly a billion years ago, generating a shockwave so huge that it makes our Milky Way galaxy pale by comparison. A burst of particles was also created by the tremendous cosmic event. Radio waves are further generated by particles, as they travel through space at very high speed.
The merger of the two galaxy clusters was on its way to creating Abell 3667, meaning a supercluster. Professor Francesco de Gasperin along with his team from the University of Hamburg and INAF analyzed the collision and concluded that it was one of the most energetic events in the Universe since the Big Bang itself.
Francesco de Gasperin explains as Phys.org quotes:
The shock waves act as giant particle accelerators and accelerate electrons almost to the speed of light. When these fast electrons cross a magnetic field, they emit long-wave radiation that can be observed with the help of radio telescopes. The shock waves are threaded by an intricate pattern of bright filaments that trace the location of giant magnetic field lines and the regions where electrons are accelerated.
In the end, maybe it’s time for all of us to realize how small we truly are in the Universe.