Stories

Your weekly dose of awe: A space-time warp

A lot of bright stars in the distance.
Photo: NASA/ESA/E. Rivera-Thorsen

Sometimes our deepest views of the universe are the most indirect.

The intrigue: This photo, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a galaxy about 11 billion light-years away whose image has been distorted and magnified by a massive galaxy cluster 4.6 billion light-years away.

  • The cluster has bent the light of the more distant galaxy, known as the Sunburst Arc, around it, allowing scientists to see it in a way they couldn't have otherwise.
  • That warping — called gravitational lensing — has created "12 images of the background galaxy, distributed over four major arcs," seen in this photo, according to NASA.

What they're saying: "The magnification allows Hubble to view structures as small as 520 light-years across that would be too small to see without the turboboost from the lensing effect," NASA said in a statement.

Go deeper:

Sign up for the Axios Space newsletter

A weekly email covering the business and science of Space