NASA's Hubble telescope spots glittering array of galaxies

The Hubble telescope is no stranger to providing exciting views of the cosmos. However, the latest one will be hard to beat. An image released by NASA shows hundreds of galaxies in a cluster known as ACO S 295.

While the image looks like the galactic neighbourhood is crunched together, it is actually over a scale of millions of light-years.

Many of the galaxies look closer in the image than they actually are, due to a process known as gravitational lensing.

If an object in space is massive enough, such as a galaxy, its gravitational field would be so intense that its mass can warp the fabric of space – space-time – and cause light to bend.

It works in a similar way to a magnifying glass, for example, which bends light through the lens, making an object appear closer.

NASA said of the image: “This packed image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope showcases the galaxy cluster ACO S 295, as well as a jostling crowd of background galaxies and foreground stars.

“Galaxies of all shapes and sizes populate this image, ranging from stately spirals to fuzzy ellipticals.

“This galactic menagerie boasts a range of orientations and sizes, with spiral galaxies such as the one at the centre of this image appearing almost face on, and some edge-on spiral galaxies visible only as thin slivers of light.

“The galaxy cluster dominates the centre of this image, both visually and physically.

“The cluster’s huge mass has gravitationally lensed the light from background galaxies, distorting and smearing their shapes.

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“In addition to providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the centre of this image, producing a visually striking scene.”

READ MORE: Hubble telescope witnesses a hungry exoplanet devour nearby gas

After years of delays, NASA is now confident that it will get its premier telescope into Earth’s orbit this year.

Scientists are optimistic the JWST will help unravel the mysteries of the Universe and potentially find alien life.

The infrared machine is so powerful it will reach back to the furthest realms and the earliest moments of space and time.

And the JWST, which is named after NASA’s second administrator James Webb who served from 1961 to 1968 and who played a major part in the Apollo missions, has the capability of scanning thousands of planets for signs of alien life – even though those planets are thousands of light-years away.

As well as seeing further into space it will accurately measure the content of water, carbon dioxide and other components in the atmosphere of an exoplanet – a planet outside of our solar system.

It will also tell scientists more about the size and distance these planets are from their host stars.



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