Saturday, January 11, 2014

pandora's cluster

this week i attended the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting near washington DC.   it has been cold. it was also the biggest AAS ever which made it one of the largest professional astronomy meetings in the world.

one of my favorite results comes through this gorgeous hubble space telescope image of a galaxy cluster, Abell 2744.

Abell 2744 (Credit: NASA/ESA/EFF)
the big fuzzy galaxies and lovely spirals mostly belong to the cluster, but there is a lot of dark matter and hot gas between those galaxies as well.   all that stuff acts like a lens and a magnifying glass to bend and distort the light from galaxies that live far behind the cluster.  the distorted galaxies look like long curved arcs.

these "gravitational lenses" are not easy to find, but you can help astronomers find them through the zooniverse project space warps.

read more about all the great physics and astronomy hidden in that image HERE.

now i get to jump on planes for the next 24 hours and return to summertime sydney.  it's been fun to enjoy this mini-winter, but i'm ready for some sun!

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