Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hubble Images Enhance Lovecraft's Words

One afternoon there was a discussion of possible freakish curvatures in space, and of theoretical points of approach or even contact between our part of the cosmos and various other regions as distant as the farthest stars or the transgalactic gulfs themselves - or even as fabulously remote as the tentatively conceivable cosmic units beyond the whole Einsteinian space-time continuum. - The Dreams in the Witch-House, HPL

Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 370

The Hubble Space Telescope’s newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has peered nearly 5 billion light years away to resolve intricate details in the galaxy cluster Abell 370. /// Abell 370 is one of the very first galaxy clusters where astronomers observed the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, where the warping of space by the cluster’s gravitational field distorts the light from galaxies lying far behind it. This is manifested as arcs and streaks in the picture, which are the stretched images of background galaxies. /// Gravitational lensing proves a vital tool for astronomers when measuring the dark matter distribution in massive clusters, since the mass distribution can be reconstructed from its gravitational effects.

Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri

Hubble snapped this panoramic view of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster. /// The image reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth.

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