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    Gravitational LensIng Around Abell 68 Creates A Cartoon Of A Space Invader
    By News Staff | March 5th 2013 05:30 PM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    The gravitational field surrounding the massive cluster of galaxies called Abell 68 acts as a natural lens in space to brighten and magnify the light coming from very distant background galaxies.

    Like a fun house mirror, lensing creates a fantasy landscape of arc-like images and mirror images of background galaxies. The foreground cluster is 2 billion light-years away, and the lensed images come from galaxies far behind it.

    In this photo, the image of a spiral galaxy at upper left has been stretched and mirrored into a shape similar to that of a simulated alien from the classic 1970s computer game "Space Invaders!" A second, less distorted image of the same galaxy appears to the left of the large, bright elliptical galaxy.

    This image was taken in infrared light by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, and combined with near-infrared observations from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The image is based on data spotted by Nick Rose in the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition.

    In the upper right of the photo is another striking feature of the image that is unrelated to gravitational lensing. What appears to be purple liquid dripping from a galaxy is a phenomenon called ram-pressure stripping. The gas clouds within the galaxy are being stripped out and heated up as the galaxy passes through a region of denser intergalactic gas.



    In this photo, the image of a spiral galaxy at upper left has been stretched and mirrored into a shape similar to that of a simulated alien from the classic 1970s computer game "Space Invaders!" A second, less distorted image of the same galaxy appears to the left of the large, bright elliptical galaxy. Credit: : NASA and ESA. Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.