Hubble telescope captures image of smiley face in space
Image credit: Pexels
Space agency Nasa took to social media on Saturday to reveal the image of a formation of galaxies that look like a smiling face, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
It posted an image on its Instagram handle that showed two yellow orbs above an arc of light, painting a smiley face in the middle of a sea of stars, as shown below.
Whilst asking its followers to find the face shown below, Nasa explained that, by using the unprecedented resolution of the Hubble’s camera, it was able to locate and study regions of star formation.
According to Nasa, the arc of light is a galaxy whose shape has been distorted and stretched because of passing by a large gravity source.
“The lower, arc-shaped galaxy has the characteristic shape of a galaxy that has been gravitationally lensed – its light has passed near a massive object en-route to us, causing it to become distorted and stretched out of shape,” said Nasa in a statement.
Shot with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), the smiling face is in the galaxy cluster SDSS J0952+3434, in which the image shows a patch of space filled with galaxies of all shapes, colours and sizes.
Nasa’s statement continued: “Hubble captured this image to understand how new stars spring to life throughout the cosmos. WFC3 can view distant galaxies at an unprecedented resolution - high enough to locate and study regions of star formation within them.”
“Stars are born within giant clouds of gas. These massive clouds, or stellar nurseries, grow unstable and begin to collapse under gravity, becoming the seeds that will grow into new stars,” the European Space Agency said, in a comment to accompany the image captured by Hubble.
“By analysing the luminosity, size and formation rate of different stellar nurseries, scientists hope to learn more about the processes that can lead to the formation of a newborn star.
“Studying nurseries within different galaxies will provide information about star formation at different points in time and space throughout the universe.”
The Hubble telescope returned to normal operations on 26 October 2018 after successfully recovering a back-up gyroscope which had replaced a failed one three weeks earlier.
Originally intended to last 15 years, the Hubble telescope has now been at the forefront of scientific discoveries for over 28 years, with the team expecting the telescope to continue to yield space discoveries well into the next decade.
Last month, astronomers announced the possible discovery of the first known ‘exomoon’ beyond our Solar System, with the Hubble Space Telescope and Kepler Space Telescope providing clear evidence of the alien moon.