Hubble space telescope spots a ‘space invader’ that seems to show an alien staring at Earth. Actually the strange object is a mirage created by the gravitational field of a foreground cluster of galaxies. Image © NASA/ESA. Acknowledgement: N. Rose
The gravitational field surrounding this massive cluster of galaxies, Abell 68, acts as a natural lens in space to brighten and magnify the light coming from very distant background galaxies.
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. It is based in part on data spotted by Nick Rose in the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition.