Abell 3827: Cannibal Cluster Gravitational Lens
Is that one galaxy or three?
Toward the right of the
featured Hubble image of the massive galaxy cluster Abell 3827
is what appears to be a most unusual galaxy -- curved and with three centers.
A detailed analysis, however, finds that these are three images
of the same background galaxy -- and that there are at least four more images.
Light we see from the single background blue galaxy takes
multiple paths through the complex gravity of the cluster,
just like a single distant light can take multiple paths
through the stem of a wine glass.
Studying how clusters like Abell 3827 and their component
galaxies deflect distant light gives
information about how mass and
dark matter are distributed.
Abell 3827 is so distant, having a
of 0.1, that the light we see from it
about 1.3 billion years ago -- before
dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
have now surely all coalesced -- in a feast of
galactic cannibalism -- into
one huge galaxy near the cluster's center.
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings,
NASA Official: Jay Norris.
A service of:
& Michigan Tech. U.
Publications with keywords: galaxy cluster - gravitational lens
Publications with words: galaxy cluster - gravitational lens