What is Abell 370, the picture shared by NASA?

NASA has recently shared a picture of Abell 370, which is a cluster of galaxies. The image was shared on the official Instagram account of the NASA Hubble Telescope.

Key Points

  • The picture of Abell 370 was captioned as the #HubbleClassic image covered by streaks of light.
  • Abell 370 is a cluster that is around 4.9 billion light-years away from Earth.
  • The massive gravity of Abell 370 causes even light to bend as it passes through, which as a result distorts our view of the galaxies behind Abell 370.
  • This distortion creates the warped shapes as shown in the image.
  • As per NASA, when light from galaxies behind Abell 370 passes through it, the gravity of the cluster magnifies the light like a lens.
  • The effect is known as gravitational lensing.
  • Hubble telescope’s picture of Abell 370 was and the warped light was studied by Durham University’s astronomer Johan Richard.
  • Richard and his team found 10 galaxies that were lensed by the Abell 370 cluster. Out of these 10, 6 galaxies were not seen before.
  • The appearance of these galaxies varied as per the amount and spread of mass in the cluster.

Richard and his team studied lensed galaxies to know more about Abell 370’s total mass and it was found that the cluster has two large, separate clumps of dark matter. This suggests Abell 370 is a result of the merger of two small galaxies.