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Frontier Fields

Meet the Frontier Fields: MACS J1149.5+2223

25 Feb 2014, 16:24 UTC
Meet the Frontier Fields:  MACS J1149.5+2223
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This is the fourth in a series of posts introducing and providing essential facts about each of the Frontier Fields.
The gravitational lens created by the galaxy cluster MACS J1149 already has a record of stirring up excitement. In 2012, observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes found the cluster had magnified a distant background galaxy. The galaxy turned out to be extremely far away — in fact, the light we detected from the galaxy likely began its intergalactic journey approximately 500 million years after the Big Bang1. This galaxy appears to us as it looked when the universe was just 3.6 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years — a baby picture of a (very) distant relative. Astronomers estimate that the gravitational lens of MACS J1149 magnified the brightness of this distant galaxy by 15 times; it would have remained undetected were it not for the help from one of nature’s powerful lenses. This discovery bodes well for the deeper images of galaxy clusters being undertaken in the Frontier Fields program.
The Massive Cluster Survey (MACS) contains a sample of more than 100 galaxy clusters, measured by the ROSAT telescope to be bright in high-energy ...

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