A cosmic “face” in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849

Here’s an interesting image:

A cosmic "face" in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. Image: NASA

A cosmic “face” in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. Image: NASA

It’s a smiley face in space! This image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, but spotted by a contestant in Nasa’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition, and shows an example of an Einstein Ring caused by gravitational lensing. This is a phenomenon that was theorised by Einstein, when he suggested that light can be affected by gravity. In this case, the light from the smaller, distant galaxy is bent by the gravity of the closer stars in front, and appears distorted in a ring around the stars, magnified to produce a ‘lensing’ effect and allowing us to see a galaxy that usually would not be visible to us. Fun science!

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