Hubble Space Telescope looks into center of vast galaxy cluster almost 9 billion light-years away
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope peered into the center of a vast galaxy cluster in a beautiful new image.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said the cosmic giant – called eMACS J1823.1+7822 – can be identified by the distortions in space-time surrounding it.
The mass of the cluster has caused the images of background galaxies to be gravitationally lensed.
Gravitational lensing occurs when a celestial object has such a massive gravitational pull that it warps time and space around it, bending the light from a more distant object and magnifying it.
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The agency said the cluster had caused a sufficient curvature of space-time to bend the path of light and cause background galaxies to appear distorted into streaks and arcs of light.
Other galaxies can be seen surrounding the cluster, as well as foreground stars with signatory diffraction spikes.
The galaxy cluster lies nearly 9 billion light-years away in the constellation Draco.
It is one of five clusters explored by the telescope, with the aim of measuring the strengths of these gravitational lenses and gaining a better understanding of the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters.
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“Strong gravitational lenses like eMACS J1823.1+7822 can help astronomers study distant galaxies by acting as vast natural telescopes which magnify objects that would otherwise be too faint or distant to resolve,” the ESA explained.
The image includes data from eight different filters and Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3.
Both of the instruments are able to view astronomical objects in just a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum using filters, which enable scientists to capture objects at precisely selected wavelengths.
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Combining observations at different wavelengths allows astronomers to see a more complete picture of an object than just visible light.