Hubble image captures hundreds of galaxies 6 billion light-years away

With the final observation of the distant galaxy cluster Abell 370- approximately 6 billion light-years away- the Frontier Fields program came to an end. Abell 370 is one of the very first galaxy clusters in which astronomers observed the phenomenon

Almost a hundred distant galaxies have multiple images caused by the lensing effect.

Much like the eclectic group of space rebels in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has some awesome superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing innumerable galaxies flung across time and space.

An earlier image of Abell 370 - using less observation time and therefore not recording such faint detail - was published in 2009. This gravitational lensing effect is the best tool for finding and studying one of nature's biggest secrets, something called dark matter.

The new image captured the thousands of galaxies in a cluster known as Abell 370.

Massive galaxy clusters offer astronomers some wonderful opportunities to study several aspects of the universe around us. It examined at six "parallel fields" and the areas near the galaxy cluster.

Galaxy cluster Abell 370 contains several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. The most stunning example is "the Dragon", an extended feature that is probably several duplicated images of a single background spiral galaxy stretched along an arc. Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the huge cluster is a rich mix of galaxy shapes. In this photograph there is a galaxy that is more than 13 billion years old, forming shortly after the birth of our universe. It generates observations of the galaxy clusters and the galaxies behind them. Along with the clusters, "parallel fields" or regions of space adjacent to the clusters - seemingly sparse - were also imaged with the same exposure that provided a deep look into the early universe.

Hubble telescope has used about 630 hours observing time with over 560 orbits of the planet Earth in capturing images of galaxies including Abell 370 and other five clusters of galaxies.

Studying massive galaxy clusters like Abell 370 also helps with measuring the distribution of normal matter and dark matter within such clusters (heic1506 - http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1506/). The cluster contains hundreds of galactic neighbors bound together by their own gravitational pull.

NASA plans to launch Hubble's successor, the James Webb Telescope, in 2018.

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