Spitzer Space Telescope Shows Gravitational Lens Effect When Looking At Pandora's Cluster

Thursday, September 29, 2016


In the ongoing hunt for the universe's earliest galaxies, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a new image of Abell 2744, also known as Pandora's Cluster. The gravity of this cluster is strong enough that it acts as a lens to magnify images of more distant galaxies in the background.

The image above of galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also called Pandora's Cluster, was taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The gravity of this galaxy cluster is strong enough that it acts as a lens to magnify images of more distant background galaxies. This technique is called gravitational lensing.

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A recent paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics presented the full catalog data for two of the six galaxy clusters studied by a project called Frontier Fields: Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster, and MACS J0416, both located about four billion light years away. The other galaxy clusters selected for Frontier Fields are RXC J2248, MACS J1149, MACS J0717 and Abell 370.

The fuzzy blobs in this Spitzer image are the massive galaxies at the core of this cluster, but astronomers will be poring over the images in search of the faint streaks of light created where the cluster magnifies a distant background galaxy. Early results from this research are already starting to emerge. The astronomers used Abell 2744's gravitational lensing to detect a large number of distant, gravitationally lensed galaxy candidates.

The cluster is also being studied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory in a collaboration for theFrontier Fields project. Hubble's image of Abell 2744 can be seen below:

Image Source - NASA
In the image, light from Spitzer's infrared channels is colored blue at 3.6 microns and green at 4.5 microns.

Galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is the product of four galaxies that crashed into one. This mix of cosmic phenomena, some of which had never been seen before, led to the nickname of Pandora's Cluster.


By  33rd SquareEmbed


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