Hubble Telescope Zooms In On The Early Universe

Hubble Zooms In On The Early Universe

This picture was captured as part of the RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey) observing program. The Milky Way’s bright stars shine in the front, the majestic spirals of many spiral galaxies can be seen across the frame, and a luminous variety of objects in the center form a gigantic galaxy cluster. These clusters are the largest objects in the Universe, bound together by gravity, and can contain hundreds of galaxies of all forms and sizes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, RELICS

This busy image is a treasure trove of wonders. Bright stars from the Milky Way sparkle in the foreground, the magnificent swirls of several spiral galaxies are visible across the frame, and a glowing assortment of objects at the center make up a massive galaxy cluster. Such clusters are the biggest objects in the Universe that are held together by gravity, and can contain thousands of galaxies of all shapes and sizes. Typically, they have a mass of about one million billion times the mass of the Sun — unimaginably huge!

Their incredible mass makes clusters very useful natural tools to test theories in astronomy, such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This tells us that objects with mass warp the fabric of spacetime around them; the more massive the object, the greater the distortion. An enormous galaxy cluster like this one, therefore, has a huge influence on the spacetime around it, even distorting the light from more distant galaxies to change a galaxy’s apparent shape, creating multiple images, and amplifying the galaxy’s light — a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.

This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 as part of an observing program called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to study.

1 Comment on "Hubble Telescope Zooms In On The Early Universe"

  1. VALERIY POLULYAKH | July 3, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Reply

    There are some very complicated issues of galaxy formation. Unfortunately, here is the same problem as with the stars. The origin of galaxies remains unclear, in spite of huge activity in the field. What the “formation” means? It means that we have the material that is assembling into galaxies.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.