This image, captured using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows an astronomical object whose image is multiplied by the effect of strong gravitational lensing.
The galaxy, nicknamed the Sunburst Arc, is almost 11 billion light-years away from Earth and has been lensed into multiple images by a massive cluster of galaxies 4.6 billion light-years away.
The mass of the galaxy cluster is large enough to bend and magnify the light from the more distant galaxy behind it. This process leads not only to a deformation of the light from the object, but also to a multiplication of the image of the lensed galaxy.
In the case of the Sunburst Arc, the lensing effect led to at least 12 images of the galaxy, distributed over four major arcs. Three of these arcs are visible in the top right of the image, while one counter arc is visible in the lower left – partially obscured by a bright foreground star within the Milky Way.
This unique sight helps astronomers get a better understanding of the cosmic era known as the Epoch of Reionisation.
Originally published by Cosmos as A dozen space doppelgangers
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.