The Hubble Space Telescope captured a spectacular image of a galactic cluster called ACO S 295, which is 3.5 billion light-years away from Earth.
It is in the middle of an overwhelming number of other galaxies and a similar number of stars in the small southern constellation of Horologium, also known as the clock.
The cluster, visible as a bright spot, visually and physically occupies the image's center. According to NASA, the ACO S 295's large mass has "gravitationally lensed" light from background galaxies, causing their shapes to look warped.
The direction of light is slightly altered as it moves through one of these large spatial structures. It's called gravitational lensing, and it's only apparent in a few situations. Only the best telescopes in the world, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, are capable of observing the phenomenon.
"In addition to providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the center of this image, producing a visually striking scene," The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said In a statement.
Hubble was launched into orbit by space shuttle Discovery on Apr. 24, 1990. It orbits about 547 kilometers (340 miles) above Earth.
The massive space telescope turned 30 years old in 2020. Hubble was designed so that it could be repaired and upgraded as required by engineers. Five space shuttle flights have brought astronauts to Hubble since its launch to fix and update the telescope. The most recent mission took place in 2009. Hubble has been updated to be much better than before. While the telescope will not be repaired or replaced, it is still operational.
Meanwhile, NASA is preparing to launch the James Webb Space Telescope. The Webb is a bigger infrared telescope than Hubble that would be able to see through space clouds and dust.