El Gordo galaxy cluster as hefty as 3 million billion suns

The galaxy cluster EL Gordo, or ACT-CL J0102-4915, is a bit more massive than astronomers originally thought.


The galaxy cluster El Gordo, which is Spanish for “the fat one,” is roughly 43 percent more massive than earlier estimates, Hubble data show.

Astronomers made the new mass estimate by watching how strongly the gravity of the galaxy cluster distorted the light of objects behind it. El Gordo, which is 9.7 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Phoenix, had enough pull to weigh in at as much as 3 million billion times the mass of the sun. It is the largest known galaxy cluster in the distant universe.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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