A space-time magnifying glass

May 15, 2013
Galaxy cluster Abell S1077, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

(Phys.org) —Bright arcs are smeared around the heart of galaxy cluster Abell S1077 in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope. The arcs are stretched images of distant galaxies distorted by the cluster's enormous gravitational field.

are large groupings of galaxies, each hosting millions of stars. They are the largest existing structures in the Universe, bound by the gravitational attraction between them.

The amount of matter condensed in such groupings is so high that their gravity is enough to warp even the fabric of space-time, distorting the path that light takes when it travels through the cluster.

In some cases, this phenomenon produces an effect somewhat like a magnifying lens, allowing us to see objects that are aligned behind the cluster and that would otherwise be undetectable from Earth.

In this image, stretched stripes that look like scratches on a lens are in fact galaxies whose light is heavily distorted by the gravitational field of the cluster.

Astronomers use the effects of gravitational lensing to peer far back in time and space to see the furthest objects located in the early Universe.

One of the record holders is galaxy MACS0647-JD, whose light was magnified by galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015 and has been travelling for 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.

Explore further: Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gravitational telescope creates space invader mirage

Mar 05, 2013

(Phys.org)—The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most powerful available to astronomers, but sometimes it too needs a helping hand. This comes in the form of Einstein's general theory of relativity, ...

Hubble focuses on 'the great attractor'

Jan 23, 2013

(Phys.org)—A busy patch of space has been captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Scattered with many nearby stars, the field also has numerous galaxies in the background.

Hubble sees the eye of the storm in galaxy cluster

May 05, 2012

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope could seem like a quiet patch of sky at first glance. But zooming into the central part of a galaxy cluster — one of the largest structures of the Universe ...

Hubble zooms in on a magnified galaxy

Feb 02, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Thanks to the presence of a natural "zoom lens" in space, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope got a uniquely close-up look at the brightest "magnified" galaxy yet discovered.

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Apr 18, 2014

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

katesisco
1 / 5 (7) May 16, 2013
Strangely, the description sounds like R Duncan's interpretation of loopy magnetism 4*4 10 to the 13 power Gauss where everything is stretched.
The stumbling block now seems to turbulence. Fusion has hit a wall due to imperfections developing on the spherical surface. Tesla's work of 100 years ago where he claimed a gravity hill/wall has not been managed.
Science currently claims 'gravity waves' which Tesla proposed as being Einsteinian which is not so. Tesla opposed curved space creating gravity and E=mc2 also. I would like to see this current fad lauding curved space as being verified corrected to Tesla interpretation.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2013
... the light passing through gravitational well isn't redshifted.


It is blue shifted falling into the well and redshifted back to the original level on leaving.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) May 16, 2013
You should place the clock inside of gravitational lense to prove it. But in this moment the lensing effect would disappear for you. Two gravitational phenomena compensating each other = one quantum phenomena. Why the gravitational lens is actually quantum phenomena? It splits the time arrow.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) May 16, 2013
You should place the clock inside of gravitational lense to prove it.


Already done, it's called gravitational redshift and can be seen in the spectrum of the Sun.
mohammadshafiq_khan_1
1 / 5 (8) May 20, 2013
The adopted paradigm of physics has been openly challenged which could be seen at http://www.worlds...mp;tab=2 and http://www.gsjour...iew/4018
Einstein's space-time concept has been mathematically, theoretically & experimentally proved baseless and General Theory of Relativity & Black Hole concept also have been proved baseless by Stephen Crothers in the published articles in peer-reviewed journal-Refer Stephen Crothers web-site. Main-stream physicists are befooling the ignorant people. They should rather accept the open challenge. When the very space-time concept, General Theory of Relativity is proved baseless & openly challenged the question of detecting the gravitational waves does not arise. They are wasting the public resources for research which can lead them nowhere.
Q-Star
3 / 5 (6) May 20, 2013
The adopted paradigm of physics has been openly challenged which could be seen at http://www.worlds...mp;tab=2
Einstein's space-time concept has been mathematically, theoretically & experimentally proved baseless and General Theory of Relativity & Black Hole concept also have been proved baseless by Stephen Crothers in the published articles in� peer-reviewed journal-Refer Stephen Crothers web-site.


Getting reviewed by your peers is not something Crothers should claim proudly, considering his peers are all cranks, crackpots or mentally ill.

Stephen Crothers was booted out his graduate program because he was disruptive to his classmates, and put great effort into attempting to sabotage the work & research of his professors & supervisors. He was given the golden opportunity to study under one of the truly great astrophysicists of the 20th century, Paul Davies, and threw it away.

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...