NASA Discovers Smiley Face Galaxy

Feb 10, 2015 at 11:01 am |
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Is there a better way to start off your Tuesday than seeing outer space smiling right back at you?

This image comes from the Hubble Telescope, which spits out so many pictures and secret discoveries that not even NASA scientists can get through them all. In fact, this picture was brought to light by an amateur star and space enthusiast, Judy Smith. The Hubble Telescope has taken over a million observations since its launch in 1990, so NASA relies on fans and supporters to sift through public images and find the “hidden treasures.”

Technically, what appears to be a pleasant emoji is actually a cluster of galaxies called SDSS J1038+4849 (doesn’t Milky Way sound so much nicer?) The two “eyes” are separate galaxies, but the “mouth” is the result of a much more complex phenomenon. Strong gravitational lensing is the bending of light that results from the gravitational pull of the galaxy cluster. The product of such lensing is the distortion of light into what looks like an ring, or in this case, an arc. Simple, right?

And there’s your daily dose of Einstein’s theory of relativity! Who knew it could look so cute?


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Take a look at this galaxy and just try not to smile. We dare you!