NASA has released a new image of a distant part of the cosmos showing several galaxies that were previously faintly seen or unseen.
One of the most notable aspects of the new image is the galaxy cluster Abell 370 that has a huge combination of galaxies bearing different shapes and sizes bound by mutual gravity to form an immense cluster.
Abell 370 is so far away that it take light 4 billion years to travel from the cluster to reach Earth. To put that into perspective, the light from Abell 370 captured by NASA’s equipment today left the cluster at a time when our Solar System was still in its early phase.
The image of Abell 370 was captured with both near-infrared and visible light. It is a densely packed collection of large and enormous galaxies in a yellowish color, each containing billions of stars.
However, the image also displays mysterious arcs of blue light that clearly indicates the presence of further distant galaxies behind the cluster. These galaxies are so far and faint that Hubble can’t even detect them directly. However, thanks to Abell 370 and a gravity-powered phenomenon called gravitational lensing, scientists now have the opportunity to view them as well.
Gravitational lensing occurs when galaxy cluster Abell 370 gets hold of the light from other spiral galaxies behind it (from the perspective of an observer on Earth). This cosmic coincidence actually adds a big advantage for Hubble and other future space telescopes when it comes to detecting galaxies that can not be otherwise monitored.
Abell 370 was one of the thousands of galaxy clusters listed by scientist George Abell way back in 1958. Abell’s early catalog contained details of more than 3,000 galaxy clusters from the Northern Hemisphere. The catalog was later updated in 1989 by adding numerous more clusters from the Southern Hemisphere.