Light Bends from the Beyond

This extraordinary image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxy cluster Abell 2813 (also known as ACO 2813) has an almost delicate beauty, which also illustrates the remarkable physics at work within it. The image spectacularly demonstrates the concept of gravitational lensing.

In amongst the tiny dots, spirals and ovals that are the galaxies that belong to the cluster, there are several distinct crescent shapes. These curved arcs of light are strong examples of a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. The image was compiled using observations taken with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). 

Gravitational lensing occurs when an object’s mass causes light to bend. The curved crescents and s-shapes of light in this image are not curved galaxies, but are light from galaxies that actually lie beyond Abell 2813. The galaxy cluster has so much mass that it acts as a gravitational lens, causing light from more distant galaxies to bend around it. These distortions can appear as many different shapes, such as long lines or arcs.

This very visual evidence that mass causes light to bend has been famously used as a proof of one of the most famous scientific theories: Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Coe

About the Image

Id:potw2115a
Type:Observation
Release date:12 April 2021, 06:00
Size:3001 x 2521 px

About the Object

Name:ACO 2813
Type:Early Universe : Galaxy : Grouping : Cluster
Constellation:Cetus
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
152.6 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
147.8 KB
1280x1024
232.4 KB
1600x1200
344.9 KB
1920x1200
429.6 KB
2048x1536
569.8 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):0 43 24.51
Position (Dec):-20° 37' 18.09"
Field of view:2.50 x 2.10 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 39.7° right of vertical


Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
Y
1.05 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
J
1.25 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
J/H
1.4 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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