Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

274,575 subscribers and counting ...

Galaxies look like fireflies

In the darkness of the distant universe, galaxies resemble glowing fireflies, flickering candles, or sparks floating up from a bonfire.

This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a massive group of galaxies bound together by gravity: a cluster named RXC J0032.1+1808.

Here’s what NASA said about this image:

This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 as part of an observing program called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to study.

The JWST is designed to see in infrared wavelengths, which is exceedingly useful for observing distant objects. As a result of the expansion of the universe, very distant objects are highly redshifted (their light is shifted towards the redder end of the spectrum) and so infrared telescopes are needed to study them. While Hubble currently has the ability to peer billions of years into the past to see “toddler” galaxies, the JWST will have the capability to study “baby” galaxies, the first galaxies that formed in the universe.

Bottom line: Hubble image of glowing galaxies in massive cluster.

Eleanor Imster

MORE ARTICLES

EarthSky Newsletter

Nearly half a million daily subscribers love our newsletter. What are you waiting for? Sign up today!

Join now to receive free daily science news delivered straight to your email.