Space… the final frontier
Fifty years ago Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise began their journey into space - the final frontier. Now, as the newest Star Trek film hits cinemas, the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope is also exploring new frontiers, observing distant galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as part of the Frontier Fields programme.
Space… the final frontier. These are the stories of the Hubble Space Telescope. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds and to boldly look where no telescope has looked before. The newest target of Hubble’s mission is the distant galaxy cluster Abell S1063, potentially home to billions of strange new worlds.
This view of the cluster, which can be seen in the centre of the image, shows it as it was four billion years ago. But Abell S1063 allows us to explore a time even earlier than this, where no telescope has really looked before. The huge mass of the cluster distorts and magnifies the light from galaxies that lie behind it due to an effect called gravitational lensing. This allows Hubble to see galaxies that would otherwise be too faint to observe and makes it possible to search for, and study, the very first generation of galaxies in the Universe. “Fascinating”, as a famous Vulcan might say.
The first results from the data on Abell S1063 promise some remarkable new discoveries. Already, a galaxy has been found that is observed as it was just a billion years after the Big Bang.
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy
cluster MACS J0416.1–2403. This is one of six being studied by the
Hubble Frontier Fields programme, which together have produced the
deepest images of gravitational lensing ever made.
Credit: NASA, ESA and the HST Frontier Fields team (STScI)