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Galaxies like grains of sand, courtesy of Planck

The Hubble Space Telescope imaged a distant cluster of galaxies that was found by ESA’s Planck satellite, which detected distortions in the cosmic background radiation caused by the cluster’s gravity. Some five billion light years from Earth, the cluster’s members appear as a swarm of red-shifted galaxies, along with an arc of bluish light caused by gravitational lensing.

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Cosmic snake pregnant with stars

This Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the Cosmic Snake, a distant galaxy peppered with clumpy regions of intense star formation that appear warped by the effect of gravitational lensing. This giant arc-like galaxy is actually behind the huge galaxy cluster MACSJ1206.2-0847, but thanks to the cluster’s gravity, we can see it from Earth.