This composite image from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and its Wide Field Camera 3 shows a huge cluster of galaxies some six billion light years away known as PSZ23 G138.61-10.84. The image is from an observing programme called the Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey, or RELICS. The RELICS project has studied 41 galaxy clusters to help locate the brightest distant galaxies for follow-on observations by the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2020.
Astronomers have combined observations from several of the world’s most powerful telescopes to carry out one of the largest studies yet of molecular gas — the raw material which fuels star formation throughout the universe — in three of the most distant clusters of galaxies ever found, detected as they appeared when the Universe was only four billion years old.
With the help of a gigantic cosmic lens, astronomers have measured the magnetic field of a galaxy nearly five billion light-years away. The achievement is giving them important new clues about a problem at the frontiers of cosmology — the nature and origin of the magnetic fields that play an important role in how galaxies develop over time.