Saturday, January 21, 2023

Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe - MACS0647

Gravitational lensing by the galaxy cluster MACS0647, in which the massive foreground cluster distorts and lenses the light emitted by distant background galaxies along the line of sight is on vivid display here in this recent multi-colour infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). In particular, the background source MACS0647-JD is seen to be lensed three times by the cluster.

When first discovered with the Hubble Space Telescope, MACS0647-JD was observed as an amorphous blob. With Webb though, this single source is revealed to be a pair or small group of galaxies.

The colours of the MACS0647-JD objects are different as well, indicating differences potentially in the age or dust content of these galaxies. These new images provide rare examples of galaxies in an era only a few 100 million years after the Big Bang.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI); Text: Michael Rutkowski (Minn. St. U. Mankato)

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