The striking new photo from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features the gravitationally lensed galaxy SGAS J143845+145407.
Gravitational lensing occurs when a large distribution of matter, such as a galaxy cluster, sits between Earth and a distant light source.
As space is warped by massive objects, the light from the distant object bends as it travels to us and we see a distorted image of it.
This effect was first predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
An important consequence of lensing distortion is magnification, allowing astronomers to observe objects that would otherwise be too far away and too faint to be seen.
“Gravitational lensing can result in multiple images of the original galaxy, as seen in this image, or in the background object appearing as a distorted arc or even a ring,” Hubble astronomers said.
Hubble has a special flair for detecting gravitationally lensed galaxies such as SGAS J143845+145407.
“The telescope’s sensitivity and crystal-clear vision allow it to see faint and distant gravitational lenses that cannot be detected with ground-based telescopes because of the blurring effect of Earth’ atmosphere,” the researchers said.
“Hubble was the first telescope to resolve details within lensed images of galaxies, and is capable of imaging both their shape and internal structure.”
SGAS J143845+145407 is from a set of Hubble observations that take advantage of gravitational lensing to peer inside galaxies in the early Universe.
“The lensing reveals details of distant galaxies that would otherwise be unobtainable, and this allows astronomers to determine star formation in early galaxies,” the scientists said.
“This in turn gives scientists a better insight into how the overall evolution of galaxies has unfolded.”
The color image of SGAS J143845+145407 was made from separate exposures taken in the visible and infrared regions of the spectrum with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instruments.
Three filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.
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