A massive galaxy cluster is at the center of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Like a submerged sea monster causing waves on the surface, this cosmic leviathan can be identified by the distortions in the space-time around it. The cluster’s massive mass curves space-time, creating a gravitational lens that bends light from distant galaxies beyond the cluster. The result is the twisted lines and arcs of light seen in this image. A group of other galaxies surrounds the cluster, and a handful of pulsar-spiked foreground stars dot the image.
This particular galaxy cluster, called eMACS J1823.1+7822, is located about nine billion light-years away in the constellation of Draco. It is one of the five exceptionally massive galaxy clusters Explore Hubble with the aim of measuring the strength of this gravitational lensing, which would provide insights into the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters. Powerful gravitational lenses such as eMACS J1823.1+7822 can help astronomers study distant galaxies by acting as huge natural telescopes that magnify objects that may be too faint or too far away to resolve.
This multi-length image layers data from eight different filters and two different instruments: Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3. Both instruments can display astronomical objects In just a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum using filters, which allow astronomers to image objects at precisely defined wavelengths. Combining observations at different wavelengths allows astronomers to develop a more complete picture of the object’s structure, composition, and behavior. visible light alone would reveal.
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