Galaxy Clusters Become Intergalactic Magnifying Lenses #SpaceSaturday

A gravitational lens can be made by any distribution of extreme quantities of matter that can bend light as it travels toward an observer. The effect can be used to create, say, the proposed Solar Gravitational Lens, which would turn the gravity lensing caused by the sun into a telescope. It also affects this image. Here’s more via Astronomy Now:

Some consider the Hubble Space Telescope’s “deep field” images among the observatory’s most profound achievements, showing the cosmos is populated by countless galaxies across timescales stretching back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. This Hubble look at galaxy cluster S 295, dominating the central region of this image, offers an equally mesmerising view with a wide range of galaxies mingled with foreground stars. The combined gravity of the galaxy cluster distorts the space around it, causing the light of background galaxies to smear out in variety of shapes. Says the European Space Agency’s “picture of the week” description: “As well as providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the centre of this image, producing a visually striking scene.”

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