Fun House Mirror in Space
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Fun House Mirror in Space

August 26, 2010
This image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows the inner region of Abell 1689, an immense cluster of galaxies located 2.2 billion light-years away. The cluster's gravitational field is warping light from background galaxies, causing them to appear as arcs. The effect is similar to what happens when you look into a fun house mirror.

Dark matter in the cluster, which represents about 80 percent of its mass, is mapped by plotting these arcs. Dark matter cannot be photographed, but its distribution is shown in the blue overlay. The dark matter distribution is then used to better understand the nature of dark energy, a pressure that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.

The natural-color photo was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

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