galaxies captured by Hubble
Abell 3322 may one day provide insight into how dark matter interacts with galaxy clusters.
No matter how frequently the Hubble Space Telescope gives us mind-numbing glimpses into our cosmos, the thrill of discovering a new one never gets old. This is the situation with regard to an image that NASA unveiled on Friday, August 18.
This image shows the vast galaxy cluster Abell 3322, a collection of worlds that is located approximately 2.6 billion light-years from Earth. This cluster therefore seems to us as though it were frozen in time during a distinct epoch of cosmic history since one light-year equals the distance light travels in one year, even accounting for the universe’s expansion rate.
Prepare for a mouthful: 2MASX J05101744-4519179, a hard-to-miss fuzzy galaxy that dominates the image.
According to the press release, Abell 3322’s brightness at X-ray wavelengths—light wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum that lie between 0.1 and 10 nanometers—is one of the object’s key characteristics for scientific observations. Since human eyes can only sense light with wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers, X-ray light is invisible to human sight. However, astronomical instruments can see beyond our physical limitations. But as NASA notes, the cluster may also be seen in other light wavelengths.
Apparently, two of Hubble’s instruments worked together to provide us with this breathtaking view, according to a NASA statement on this cosmic cluster photograph. The telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys focused on visible-light observations while its Wide Field Camera 3 recorded the region of the electromagnetic spectrum between ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared light. You may have also heard the term “infrared astronomy” recently because the James Webb Space Telescope has been making news for its use of specialized infrared sensors to decode our universe.
For scientists to examine the oldest parts of our cosmos and see through vast layers of dust and gas to what may be hidden behind, this kind of light detection is essential. The cluster, which is located in the constellation Pictor, may actually be studied with the help of future studies of Abell 3322 made with the JWST, according to NASA.
The fact that so many galaxies appear to have been expanded in Microsoft Word until they resemble oddly formatted, dragged-out smudges is another rather fantastic feature of this freshly revealed image. However, these smudges are intriguing to look at because the gravitational lensing phenomena, which was previously predicted by Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory, is responsible for the way they appear.
"Observing galaxy clusters like Abell 3322 can advance our understanding of the evolution and interactions of dark and luminous matter in galaxy clusters, and also reveals powerful gravitational 'telescopes' that magnify distant objects through gravitational lensing," NASA stated in a statement.
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In a nutshell, gravitational lensing describes the way that light from a distant object, such as a galaxy, is impacted as it passes through space that has been bent by dents such as other galaxies. Because these light distortions can occasionally lead to a magnifying effect known as gravitational lensing, astronomers can employ this effect for scientific investigations of distant objects in the cosmos. Because of this phenomenon, sources of light are simpler to distinguish from Earth.
Actually, the JWST has been absolutely crushing it in that sense, revealing to us an incredible number of gravitationally distorted galaxies. Maybe the next item on its list will be Abell 3322.