This zoom into galaxy cluster Abell 370 highlights weird shapes in the enormous cluster of galaxies. The shapes are actually the warped appearances of galaxies that are not part of the cluster but lie far beyond it. The immense gravity of the galaxy cluster causes these far-off galaxies to look distorted. As light from a distant galaxy travels toward us, through the Abell 370 galaxy cluster, the cluster’s gravitational force bends and magnifies the distant galaxy’s light like a lens. This quirk of nature is called gravitational lensing.
NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI);
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, A. Fujii, Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)
Publication: September 9, 2009