NASA has released a stunning image of a galactic cluster — ACO S 295 — that is 3.5 billion light-years away from the Earth taken by the Hubble telescope. It is in the middle of an overwhelming number of other galaxies and a similar number of stars in the small southern constellation of Horologium, also known as the clock. Captured by the Hubble telescope, the cluster, visible as a bright spot, dominates the centre of this image, both visually and physically. NASA said that the huge mass of the ACO S 295 has “gravitationally lensed” the light from background galaxies, because of which their shapes appear distorted.
When light passes one of these massive spatial objects, its path is changed slightly. This is known as gravitational lensing and it is visible in rare cases. Only the best telescopes in the world can observe the phenomena, such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
In a statement, NASA added, “In addition to providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the center of this image, producing a visually striking scene.”
In an Instagram post, the space agency described the galactic cluster and captioned the photo, “Let your mind wander… and enjoy.” The Instagram image has been liked by more than 6.44 lakh users and many of them even commented on it.
While a user by the name ‘marisbum' wrote “That big bright one in middle looks like heaven”, ‘santiagodelgad0' said that by looking at the photo “the only thing that goes through my mind is that we are not really alone in the universe”.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 31 years ago as a collaboration project of the US and the EU. It is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space and has an unobstructed view of the universe. NASA regularly shares cosmic images captured by its Hubble telescope.
The Hubble, after its launch in 1990, has made more than 1.4 million observations as it has an “unobstructed view” of the universe, according to NASA.