Flirting, gravitational lensing, whatever you want to call it. Apparently there are some really happy galaxies out there. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image which shows two faint galaxies that combine to create a smiley face in space.
In the case of this face, the two eyes are galaxies SDSSCGB 8842.3 and SDSSCGB 8842.4 and the misleading smile lines are arcs of lights caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.
Massive structures in the Universe exert such a powerful gravitational pull that they can warp the spacetime around them and act as a cosmic lenses which magnifies, distorts and bends the light around them. This phenomenon, crucial to many of Hubble’s discoveries, can be explained by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The Hubble telescope provides astronomers with the tools needed to probe these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects, allowing us to peer further into the early Universe than ever before. It also provides us pictures of awesome smiley face galaxies like this.
NASA & ESA
Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla.org)