While the James Webb Space Telescope is capturing headlines on a near-daily basis, its famous predecessor – the Hubble Space Telescope – remains in the forefront of optical astronomy as seen in this view of at least two galaxy clusters in the process of merging. In a project called “Monsters in the Making,” Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys studied a throng of galaxies known as eMACS J1353.7+4329, located about eight billion light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici. The resulting image shows the crowded field of galaxies and the first hints of gravitational lensing, arcs of distorted light from background galaxies that are magnified by the combined gravity of the foreground cluster. The Monsters in the Making project is designed to help lay the groundwork for future gravitational lensing studies by Webb and other next-generation telescopes.
Astronomers using the super-sharp radio vision of the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) have found the shredded remains of a galaxy that passed through a larger galaxy, leaving only the smaller galaxy’s nearly-naked supermassive black hole to emerge and speed away at more than 2,000 miles per second.