Some consider the Hubble Space Telescope’s “deep field” images among the observatory’s most profound achievements, showing the cosmos is populated by countless galaxies across timescales stretching back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. This Hubble look at galaxy cluster S 295, dominating the central region of this image, offers an equally mesmerising view with a wide range of galaxies mingled with foreground stars. The combined gravity of the galaxy cluster distorts the space around it, causing the light of background galaxies to smear out in variety of shapes. Says the European Space Agency’s “picture of the week” description: “As well as providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the centre of this image, producing a visually striking scene.”
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the simple beauty of NGC 339, a 6.5-billion-year-old massive intermediate age star cluster that lies in the SMC, a dwarf galaxy some 200,000 light-years away from us. The relationship between such clusters and true globular clusters is not yet fully understood.
Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the properties of dark matter, the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up a majority of matter in the universe. The study, which involves 13 galaxy clusters, explores the possibility that dark matter may be more “fuzzy” than “cold,” perhaps even adding to the complexity surrounding this cosmic conundrum.