Galaxy cluster distorts space and time, says James Webb Telescope

  • New cosmic photos of galactic “arcs and streaks” in space were released Tuesday by NASA’s James Webb Telescope.
  • Galaxies bend space and time in a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
  • This effect also helps magnify distant galaxies.

New photos of galactic “arcs and ridges” in space released by NASA’s James Webb Telescope show just how trippy a phenomenon called gravitational lensing can seem.

The gravitational lens is a literal distortion of spacetime. It occurs when a celestial body with a strong gravitational pull “causes spacetime to bend enough so that the path of light around it is visibly bent, like through a lens,” the European Space Agency explains. .

Basically, the celestial body will distort the galaxies and stars behind it for someone watching from afar.

The gravitational lens also has a magnifying effect, making it useful for scientists studying distant galaxies that might otherwise be too difficult to spot. The galaxy cluster SDSS J1226+2149 shown in this new photo is about 6.3 billion light-years away, in the Coma Berenices constellation, according to the ESA.

Thanks to this effect, NIRCam, Webb’s main near-infrared camera, was able to capture a clearer and brighter photo of the Cosmic Seahorse galaxy – represented by a “long, bright, distorted arc extending near the core” at the bottom right quadrant.

The groundbreaking space telescope, which continues to capture some of the clearest and most breathtaking photos of the outer reaches of the universe, last year captured a gravitational lens in a photo of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. The image “Deep Field”, which was the first color image unveiled by NASA since Webb on July 11, captured galaxies over 13 billion years old.

galaxies stars in the infrared jwst

The first deep-field infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope, released on July 11, 2022.


Photos released in October included a cluster of stars 5.6 billion light-years away. Light from the MACS0647-JD system is bent and amplified by the massive gravity of the MACS0647 galaxy cluster.


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