|It is difficult to hide a galaxy behind a cluster of galaxies.
The closer cluster's gravity will act like a
huge lens, pulling images of the distant galaxy around the sides and greatly distorting them.
This is just the case observed in the above recently released image from the CLASH survey with the
Hubble Space Telescope.
MACS J1206.2-0847 is composed of many galaxies and is lensing the image of a yellow-red background galaxy into the
huge arc on the right.
Careful inspection of the image will reveal at least several other lensed background galaxies -- many appearing as elongated wisps.
cluster can only create such smooth arcs if most of its mass is smoothly distributed
dark matter -- and therefore not concentrated in the cluster galaxies visible.
Analyzing the positions of these
gravitational arcs also gives astronomers a method to estimate the
dark matter distribution in galaxy clusters, and infer from that when these
huge conglomerations of galaxies
began to form.
(STScI), and the