APR 24, 2015 3:58 AM PDT

A Smiley Face In Space

WRITTEN BY: Andrew J. Dunlop
The galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 - and it seems to be smiling.

In the center of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 - and it seems to be smiling.

You can make out its two orange eyes and white button nose. In the case of this "happy face", the two eyes are very bright galaxies and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

Galaxy clusters are the most massive structures in the Universe and exert such a powerful gravitational pull that they warp the spacetime around them and act as cosmic lenses which can magnify, distort and bend the light behind them. This phenomenon, crucial to many of Hubble's discoveries, can be explained by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

In this special case of gravitational lensing, a ring - known as an Einstein Ring - is produced from this bending of light, a consequence of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer and resulting in the ring-like structure we see here.

Hubble has provided astronomers with the tools to probe these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects, allowing us to peer further into the early Universe than ever before. This object was studied by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of a survey of strong lenses.
About the Author
Andrew J. Dunlop lives and writes in a little town near Boston. He's interested in space, the Earth, and the way that humans and other species live on it.
You May Also Like
SEP 19, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Life on Earth: Could More of the Surface Be Habitable?
Life on Earth: Could More of the Surface Be Habitable?
In a paper recently published in The Astronomical Journal, a group of researchers upended two long-held scientific assum ...
NOV 05, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Earth-size Exoplanet Lacks an Atmosphere
Earth-size Exoplanet Lacks an Atmosphere
In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team of researchers led by the Univer ...
DEC 02, 2022
Space & Astronomy
The First Exoplanet Atmosphere Observed by JWST
The First Exoplanet Atmosphere Observed by JWST
Unprecedented discoveries regarding exoplanet atmospheres have just been detailed in a series of new papers (links provi ...
JAN 11, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
A team of astronomers have found a pair of supermassive black holes near the center of a newly forming galaxy. The black ...
JAN 24, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Jupiter's Cratered, Banded, and (Possible) Ocean Moon, Ganymede | Solar System Moons
Jupiter's Cratered, Banded, and (Possible) Ocean Moon, Ganymede | Solar System Moons
Labroots previously examined the planet Jupiter and some of its Galilean Moons-Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto-which ...
JAN 22, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Gaia Discovers a Planet Undergoing Fusion
Gaia Discovers a Planet Undergoing Fusion
An international team of scientists led by Sasha Hinkley at the University of Exeter have used the European Space Agency ...
Loading Comments...