The Hubble Space Telescope captured a friendly face in space. NASA has released the photo of distant galaxies seemingly smiling back to the observatory.
The Observatory's wide-field camera 3 took the photo of the galaxy cluster SDSS J0952+3434. It showed a number of bright lights in different shapes, colors, and sizes.
The Universe Smiling Back At Hubble
The photo, published by NASA on its website and social media channels, shows two yellow-hued orbs of lights just a little below the middle. Under it is another source of light arching like a little smile.
According to the U.S. space agency, the lower arc is created by gravitational lensing — an effect caused by light getting deformed due to the influence of a massive object on its path. In this case, a light from a far-away galaxy is being distorted by an unidentified object, causing it to look like a mouth.
Hubble has taken a few photos showcasing banana-shaped arcs of light from across the universe. In some cases, gravitational lensing causes some lights from distant celestial sources to look like a ring or a bubble in space. Because of its position, the space telescope can see and capture the effect, which cannot be detected by ground-based observatories.
Smile, it's #HubbleFriday! Just below the center of this image, 2 yellow-hued blobs hang atop a sweeping arc of light. The arc has the characteristic shape of a galaxy that has been gravitationally lensed causing it to become distorted and stretched: https://t.co/Nnozc5zpuv pic.twitter.com/ZygYXeBdwW — Hubble (@NASAHubble) November 2, 2018
Hubble Studying Formation Of Distant Stars
The Hubble Space Telescope captured the photo while surveying the region to further understand the processes that allow the formation of new stars across the universe.
Stars are born in stellar nurseries or giant clouds of interstellar clouds and dust that grow unstable and begin to collapse due to its own gravity. New stars are formed over the course of millions of years.
NASA hopes to analyze the luminosity, the size, and the rate of formation of stars in different stellar nurseries from various points in time throughout the universe.
The photo was published a few days after the Hubble Space Telescope had returned to its normal science operations following a gyroscope malfunction. For two weeks, the space observatory had been placed into safe mode as engineers figured out their next step of action.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in space, looking across the universe for nearly 30 years.