Team of International Astronomers capture spectacular images of colliding galaxies

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An international team of astronomers have combined to collect the most impressive images ever captured of colliding galaxies. The team was able to use a number of telescopes based in locations around the world on the ground as well as a number of space based telescopes to capture the impressive sight.

The key piece of equipment, however, was a natural lens provided in space itself. Scientists were able to combine all their equipment with a natural lens in space known as gravitational lens. Essentially, using a gravitational lens is like having a giant magnifying glass positioned in space in front of an object you wish to look at a little more closely.

Gravitational lenses are created by huge structures like galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Enormous structures like this can deflect light from objects surrounding and even behind them due to their gravitational pull. Scientists can then use this gravitational effect to analyse objects are normally out of range of traditional lenses. Positioning and timing are the two key elements that led to the capture of these stunning images.

Hugo Messias of the Universidad de ConcepciĆ³n (Chile), head author on an article in the Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics wrote of the phenomenon: "While astronomers are often limited by the power of their telescopes, in some cases our ability to see detail is hugely boosted by natural lenses, created by the Universe. Einstein predicted in his theory of general relativity that, given enough mass, light does not travel in a straight line but will be bent in a similar way to light refracted by a normal lens."

The team were able to locate a gravitational lens in a galaxy known as H-ATLAS J142935.3-002836. In a mind boggling scenario, the light emitted from this area of space is actually from a time when the universe was only half the age it currently is. The gravitational lens was then used in conjunction with the Hubble telescope to reveal a clear image of two galaxies colliding and spewing out a hist of new stars as a result.

Telescopic photography equipment was also used recently to capture stunning images of the comet Jacques which is currently hurdling its' way past Earth on a long journey in space. The comet was pictured in front of Cassiopeia's Heart and Soul Nebulae creating an image that is pretty unforgettable.

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