Hubble Image Reveals New View Of The Universe

By Shweta Iyer on April 17, 2014 2:05 PM EDT

cosmos
This is an image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range from cosmic near neighbours to objects seen in the early years of the Universe. The 14-hour exposure shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye. (Photo: NASA, ESA)

Numerous images of the space have been taken over the years, giving us a glimpse of the far and beyond. Recently the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of a galaxy cluster that gives a random representation of the universe showing galaxies and cosmic objects at different distances from each other and in different stages of evolution, according to a press release Thursday. Some of these objects are close neighbors while others to objects seen in the early years of the universe.

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The image taken after a 14-hour exposure shows objects that are so faint that they would need to be magnified about a billion times to be seen with the naked eye. The new image shows incredible objects at various distances from each other and the Earth. It shows objects extending back over halfway to the edge of the observable Universe. The galaxies observed in this image are around five billion light years away from us. Objects closer and farther from this are also visible in the field of view.

When we observe stars and other celestial objects they appear very close together. But this is just an optical illusion and these objects may be billions if not trillions of light years apart. Because the light from all these objects is coming from the same direction and because they are all scattered and viewed from that direction they appear to be closer than they really are.

Hubble's image also shows distorted images of galaxies in the distant background. A theory called gravitational lensing is the reason for this distortion. Predicted by Einstein, it refers to the distribution of objects such as clusters of galaxies between a distant object and an observer. This distribution is capable of bending the light from the distant object as it travels towards the observer. In other words, lensing is caused by the bending of the space-time continuum by massive galaxies lying close to our line of sight to distant objects.

One of the lens systems visible here is called CLASS B1608+656, which appears as a small loop in the centre of the image. It features two foreground galaxies distorting and amplifying the light of a distant quasar. The light from this bright disc of matter, which is currently falling into a black hole, has taken nine billion years to reach us -- two thirds of the age of the Universe.

Apart from CLASS B1608+656, two other gravitational lenses have been identified within this image. Two galaxies, dubbed Fred and Ginger by the researchers who studied them, contain enough mass to visibly distort the light from objects behind them. Fred, also known scientifically as [FMK2006] ACS J160919+6532, lies near the lens galaxies in CLASS B1608+656, while Ginger ([FMK2006] ACS J160910+6532) is markedly closer to us.

Despite their different distances from us, both can be seen near to CLASS B1608+656 in the central region of this Hubble image.

Long exposure was used on the Hubble to capture these distant and dim objects. The image is made up of visible and infrared observations with a total exposure time of 14 hours.

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