Hubble captures galaxy cluster 6 billion light years away

Pablo Tucker
May 6, 2017

It has always been used by astronomers to find and study more distant galaxies.

A gorgeous galaxy cluster named Abell 370 stars in the images, which NASA released on Thursday (May 4).

Researchers think dark matter is more common in the universe than visible matter, but because it does not absorb or emit light, they have a hard time finding it and studying it.

The Frontier Fields program aims to push our view of the universe all the way back to the Big Bang, showing us some of the earliest objects and galaxies in the cosmos. Lotz and the HFF Team A stunning example is a galaxy cluster called Abell 370 that contains an astounding assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity.

Astronomers estimate the Dragon's contours are formed by a solitary, faraway spiral galaxy, stretched into a long dragon-shaped arc. They are elliptical galaxies, and each one hosts several billion stars.

The cluster's enormous gravitational influence warps the shape of spacetime around it, causing the light of background galaxies to spread out along multiple paths and appear both distorted and magnified, the European Space Agency said.

The massive luminous arc in the lower left of the image is an astrophysical phenomenon that is the gravitationally lensed image of a galaxy twice as far away as the cluster.

This image of Abell 370 was taken as part of the recently concluded Frontier Fields project, with a goal of observing objects otherwise too far off to see by taking advantage of gravitational lensing around massive galaxy clusters.

NASA plans to launch Hubble's successor, the James Webb Telescope, in 2018. It is the last of six galaxy clusters imaged in the recently concluded Frontier Fields project.

Like the quirky characters in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has some fantastic superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing galaxies across time and space. By studying its lensing properties, astronomers have determined that Abell 370 contains two large, separate clumps of dark matter, contributing to the evidence that this massive galaxy cluster is actually the result of two smaller clusters merging together. In this photograph there is a galaxy that is more than 13 billion years old, forming shortly after the birth of our universe.

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