Final frontier: Hubble captures awesome space-warped images of mega-distant galaxies (VIDEO)
The vivid galaxy cluster Abell S1063, located some 4 billion light-years away, holds the key to this staggering phenomenon.
Its immense mass causes a mesmerizing distortion of distance by the ‘bending’ of light. This gravitational lensing allows us to view galaxies well beyond the cluster, which would otherwise be impossible to see.
Abell S1063 is home to...wait for it...100 million-million solar masses, including stars and nebulae and potentially more than 450 galaxies.
If it all sounds a little Star Treky, that’s because it is. Katrina Jackson of NASA’s Goddard Flight Center credits the hit series with inspiring and encouraging many fans to explore space’s ‘final frontier’ in greater detail. Indeed the Hubble pictures have been released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the franchise and the release of the latest movie.
The images provide a view of the early universe and it’s now possible to see a ‘baby’ galaxy as it was 1 billion years after the big bang.
This initiative, which is part of the Frontier Fields program, outdoes the Hubble Deep Field Images project of 1994 and Hubble Ultra Deep Field images of 2004 - but the James Webb Space Telescope will show things with even more clarity when it launches in 2018.
NASA believes that by magnifying and studying the distant galaxies, they will better understand “mysterious dark matter that comprises most of the mass of the universe.”