Thursday, November 09, 2023

"Mothra" Star in Galaxy Cluster MACS0416 | Webb & Hubble Space Telescopes

"Mothra" Star in Galaxy Cluster MACS0416 | Webb & Hubble Space Telescopes

This image of galaxy cluster MACS0416 highlights one particular gravitationally lensed background galaxy that existed about 3 billion years after the big bang. That galaxy contains a transient, or object that varies in observed brightness over time, that the science team nicknamed “Mothra”.

Mothra is a star that is magnified by a factor of at least 4,000 times. The team believes that Mothra is magnified not only by the gravity of galaxy cluster MACS0416, but also by an object known as a “milli-lens” that likely weighs about as much as a globular star cluster.

Image Description: A field of galaxies on the black background of space. In the middle, stretching from left to right, is a collection of dozens of yellowish spiral and elliptical galaxies that form a foreground galaxy cluster. Among them are distorted linear features created when the light of a background galaxy is bent and magnified through gravitational lensing. At center left, a particularly prominent example stretches vertically about three times the length of a nearby galaxy. It is outlined by a white box, and a lightly shaded wedge leads to an enlarged view at the bottom right. The linear feature is reddish and curves gently. It is studded with about a half dozen bright clumps. One such spot near the middle of the feature is labelled “Mothra".

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Diego (Instituto de Física de Cantabria, Spain), J. D’Silva (U. Western Australia), A. Koekemoer (STScI), J. Summers & R. Windhorst (ASU), and H. Yan (U. Missouri).

Release Date: Nov. 9, 2023

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