This Hubble Space Telescope view of a massive cluster of galaxies unveils a very cluttered-looking universe filled with galaxies near and far. Some are distorted like a funhouse mirror through a “space warp” phenomenon first predicted by Einstein a century ago. In the center of the image is the immense galaxy cluster Abell S1063, located 4 billion light-years away, and surrounded by magnified images of galaxies much farther.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz (STScI)
Thanks to Hubble’s exquisite sharpness, the photo unveils the effect of space warping due to gravity. The huge mass of the cluster distorts and magnifies the light from galaxies that lie far behind it due to an effect called gravitational lensing. This phenomenon allows Hubble to see galaxies that would otherwise be too small and faint to observe. This “warp field” makes it possible to get a peek at the very first generation of galaxies. Already, an infant galaxy has been found in the field, as it looked one billion years after the big bang.