Science and Exploration

Hubble Probes the Distant Past Via Gravitational Lens

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 6, 2018
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Hubble Probes the Distant Past Via Gravitational Lens
Gravitational lens

This Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 image demonstrates the immense effects of gravity; more specifically, it shows the effects of gravitational lensing caused by a galaxy cluster called SDSS J1152+3313.
Gravitational lenses — such as this galaxy cluster — possess immense masses that warp their surroundings and bend the light from faraway objects into rings, arcs, streaks, blurs and other odd shapes. This lens is bending the light from a more distant galaxy into a grand arc, which is blue because of the energetic star formation activity in the galaxy. The lens, however, is not only warping the appearance of the distant galaxy — it is also amplifying its light, making it appear much brighter than it would be without the lens. Combined with the high image quality obtainable with Hubble, this gives valuable clues into how stars formed in the early universe.

Star formation is a key process in astronomy. Everything that emits light is somehow connected to stars, so understanding how stars form is key to understanding countless objects lying across the cosmos. Astronomers can probe these early star-forming regions to learn about the sizes, luminosities, formation rates and generations of different types of stars.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)
Text Credit: ESA

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