A treasure trove of wonders! With bright stars from the Milky Way sparkling in the foreground to the magnificent swirls of several spiral galaxies and a glowing assortment of objects at the center, take a look at all that makes up this massive galaxy cluster in this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble). Such clusters are the biggest objects in the universe that are held together by gravity and can contain thousands of galaxies of all shapes and sizes. Typically, they have a mass of about one million billion times the mass of the Sun — unimaginably huge! Their incredible mass makes clusters very useful natural tools to test theories in astronomy, such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This tells us that objects with mass warp the fabric of space-time around them; the more massive the object, the greater the distortion. An enormous galaxy cluster like this one therefore has a huge influence on the space-time around it, even distorting the light from more distant galaxies to change a galaxy’s apparent shape, creating multiple images, and amplifying the galaxy’s light — a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.
Image Credit: @EuropeanSpaceAgency & NASA, RELICS
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