Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, I. Labbe (Swinburne University of Technology) and R. Bezanson (University of Pittsburgh). Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Key Takeaways

  1. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed a new deep field image of Pandora’s Cluster, showcasing never-before-seen details in this region of space.
  2. Pandora’s Cluster is a megacluster formed by three massive galaxy clusters coming together, creating a gravitational lens that magnifies distant galaxies in the early universe.
  3. Webb’s infrared instruments combined with broad mosaic views provide a powerful tool for studying cosmology and galaxy evolution.
  4. The images display roughly 50,000 sources of near-infrared light and reveal hundreds of distant lensed galaxies with warped appearances due to gravitational lensing.
  5. The UNCOVER team plans to use Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) to obtain precise distance measurements and detailed information about the lensed galaxies’ compositions, shedding light on early galaxy assembly and evolution.

Astronomy has taken a significant leap forward with the unveiling of a groundbreaking deep field image captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. This stunning image features Pandora’s Cluster, also known as Abell 2744, a captivating region of space where three massive galaxy clusters are merging to form a colossal megacluster. Thanks to the combined gravitational force of these clusters, a powerful gravitational lens has been created, offering scientists the extraordinary opportunity to observe far-flung galaxies from the early universe through this cosmic magnifying glass.

Prior to Webb’s observation, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope had only studied the central core of Pandora’s Cluster. By leveraging Webb’s infrared capabilities and capturing a vast mosaic view of the lensing areas, astronomers aimed to explore cosmology and galaxy evolution on a whole new level. The panoramic image from Webb consists of approximately 50,000 sources of near-infrared light, revealing astonishing details previously unseen.

The gravitational lensing effect not only magnifies the distant galaxies but also distorts their appearance, creating mesmerizing arced lines in the image. Astronomers are excited to conduct follow-up observations using Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) to obtain precise distance measurements and insights into the compositions of these lensed galaxies, illuminating the early era of galaxy formation and evolution.

The significance of this discovery goes beyond scientific circles. As the mysteries of Pandora’s Cluster unfold, the James Webb Space Telescope proves itself as an invaluable resource, pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the universe. As the data becomes available to the entire astronomy community, we can anticipate an era of unprecedented discoveries, opening the door to a new realm of knowledge and exploration.

Read full article on NASA.GOV


Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/ITA/INAF/J. Merten et al. Lensing: NASA/STScI; NAOJ/Subaru; ESO/VLT Optical: NASA/STScI/R. Dupke


Image credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)


This composite image contains the aftermath of a giant collision involving four separate galaxy clusters at a distance of about 3.5 billion light years. Officially known as Abell 2744, this system is also referred to by astronomers as “Pandora’s Cluster” because all of the different structures found within it. This view of Abell 2744 contains X-ray data from Chandra (blue) showing hot gas, optical data from Subaru and the VLT (red, green and blue), and radio data from the NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (red). Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/ITA/INAF/J.Merten et al, Lensing: NASA/STScI, NAOJ/Subaru, ESO/VLT; Optical: NASA/STScI/R.Dupke


This image of galaxy cluster Abell 2744 combines data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, with an image taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Hubble provides the central, most detailed part of the image, while the VLT, which has a wider field of view, provides the outer parts of the image.

This object has been nicknamed Pandora’s Cluster because of the many different and strange phenomena that were unleashed by a huge collision that occurred over a period of 350 million years. A simultaneous pile-up between at least four separate clusters has produced strange effects that have never been seen together before. Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO and D. Coe (STScI)/J. Merten (Heidelberg/Bologna)


Image of galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also called Pandora’s Cluster, was taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. This technique is called gravitational lensing. In this image, light from Spitzer’s infrared channels is colored blue at 3.6 microns and green at 4.5 microns. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Zoom Into Pandora’s Cluster

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