From: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Published May 4, 2017 11:29 AM

A Lot of Galaxies Need Guarding in this NASA Hubble View

Much like the eclectic group of space rebels in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has some amazing superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing innumerable galaxies flung across time and space.

A stunning example is galaxy cluster called Abell 370 that contains an astounding assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. That’s a lot of galaxies to be guarding, and just in this one cluster!

Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the immense cluster is a rich mix of a variety of galaxy shapes. The brightest and largest galaxies in the cluster are the yellow-white, massive, elliptical galaxies containing many hundreds of billions of stars each. Spiral galaxies — like our Milky Way — have younger populations of stars and are bluish.

Entangled among the galaxies are mysterious-looking arcs of blue light. These are actually distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. These far-flung galaxies are too faint for Hubble to see directly. Instead, the cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. The massive gravitational field of the foreground cluster produces this phenomenon. The collective gravity of all the stars and other matter trapped inside the cluster warps space and affects light traveling through the cluster, toward Earth.

Read more at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Image: Galaxy cluster Abell 370 contains several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the brightest and largest galaxies are the yellow-white, massive, elliptical galaxies containing many hundreds of billions of stars each. Spiral galaxies have younger populations of stars and are bluish. Mysterious-looking arcs of blue light are distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. The cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. (Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team (STScI))

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