Galaxy Cluster and Gravitational Lens MACS J1149+2223
Ssc2012 12a1

Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/W. Zheng (JHU), and the CLASH team

Observation • September 19th, 2012 • ssc2012-12a1


With the combined power of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the primordial galaxy traveled approximately 13.2 billion light-years before reaching NASA's telescopes, shining forth from the so-called cosmic dark ages when the universe was just 3.6 percent of its present age.

Astronomers relied on gravitational lensing to catch sight of the early, distant galaxy. In this phenomenon, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, the gravity of foreground objects warps and magnifies the light from background objects.

In this image, the many galaxies of a massive cluster called MACS J1149+2223 dominate the scene. Gravitational lensing by the giant cluster brightened the light from the newfound galaxy, known as MACS 1149-JD, some 15 times (though it is not readily apparent in this view).

About the Object

MACS J1149+2223
Cosmology > Morphology > Deep Field
Cosmology > Phenomenon > Lensing
5,300,000,000 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 1.1 µm Hubble WFC3
Infrared 1.1 µm Hubble WFC3
Infrared 1.3 µm Hubble WFC3
Infrared 1.4 µm Hubble WFC3
Infrared 1.6 µm Hubble WFC3
Optical 435 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 475 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 555 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 606 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 625 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 775 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 814 nm Hubble ACS
Optical 850 nm Hubble ACS


Position (J2000)
RA =11h 49m 34.7s
Dec = 22° 24' 4.8"
Field of View
2.6 x 2.5 arcminutes
North is 12.8° left of vertical