24 Feb. () –
The galaxies surrounding this cluster in the constellation Cetus – named SPT-CL J0019-2026 – appear stretched out in bright arcs, as if distorted by a gargantuan magnifying glass.
This cosmic twisting, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and called gravitational lensing, occurs when the powerful gravitational field of a massive object such as a cluster of galaxies distorts and broadens the light of background objects.
Normally, these objects would be too far away and too faint to see, but the magnifying power of gravitational lensing extends Hubble’s view even deeper into the universe, reports NASA.
This observation is part of an ongoing project to fill gaps in the Hubble observation schedule by systematically exploring the most massive galaxy clusters in the distant Universe, in the hope of identifying promising targets for further study with both Hubble and with the James Webb Space Telescope. This particular galaxy cluster is a whopping 4.6 billion light-years away from Earth.