Far away in a distant galaxy, there is a beaming face smiling back at us.
Hubble scientists recently discovered this galaxy cluster — massive structures that exert a gravitational pull strong enough to warp the spacetime around them (nbd) — that resembles a face with two bright eyes, a button nose and a smile.
But there is, of course, a reason for this (because science!). The curving image that resembles a grin is an effect called gravitational lensing, which is essentially light bending. Here’s how NASA explains it:
“In this special case of gravitational lensing, a ring — known as an Einstein Ring — is produced from this bending of light, a consequence of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer and resulting in the ring-like structure we see here.”
Pretty simple, right? If you didn’t catch that, you can always refer to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which explains this phenomenon.
The Hubble Space Telescope orbits Earth at about five miles per second; a complete spin takes 97 minutes. The Hubble routinely delivers these images from deep space, helping us further understand big concepts like the age of our universe.
One of Hubble’s most famous images is called the eXtreme Deep Field, the farthest-ever view of the universe, which reveals thousands of galaxies billions of light years away.