An Aptly Named Cluster

The Phoenix Cluster is up to something. It lurks many light years away, and at first glance would seem to be supremely uninteresting: it is very old, not too big, and by all rights shouldn't be doing much of anything. However, you can't judge a galactic cluster by its cover.

Rather than being old and tired, as its supposed to be, the Phoenix cluster seems to have come back to life. It is producing new stars at an incredible rate of over 700 per year. It is very hot, but cooling fast enough for the hot gasses to condense into stars. It also produces prodigious amounts of X-rays.

It is thought that a supermassive black hole is hiding in the heart of the cluster. Now, the gravitational eddies and particle emissions of a black hole, by rights, should serve to whip up gasses into a hot frenzy. If the gasses are too hot, they can't condense into stars. Something apparently is keeping the process at bay.

Phoenix is aptly named. It is currently dying. As it cools and makes new stars, it gets less and less powerful. Each birth robs it of some vitality. However, it will always live on: in the form of the newborn suns that carry its legacy.

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