NASA’s Webb new images of Pandora’s Cluster show a stronger, wider, better lens
Pandora’s Cluster, also known as Abell 2744, is a giant galaxy located approximately 4 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor. Previously, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope had studied Pandora’s central core in detail.
Now, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope features never-before-seen details in a region of space known as Pandora’s Cluster. In Webb’s view, three existing huge clusters of galaxies are seen merging to form a mega cluster.
By acting as a natural magnifying glass, the galaxy clusters’ combined mass produces a strong gravitational lens that makes it possible to detect many more distant galaxies in the early universe. The previously unknown view of Pandora’s Cluster combines four Webb images into one panoramic picture that shows almost 50,000 sources of near-infrared light.
Astronomer Rachel Bezanson of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania said, “The ancient myth of Pandora is about human curiosity and discoveries that delineate the past from the future, which I think is a fitting connection to the new realms of the universe. Webb is opening up, including this deep-field image of Pandora’s Cluster.”