Distant galaxy cluster is so huge it can actually bend light

MACS J0454.1-0300 is 180 trillion times the mass of our sun

Published March 29, 2014 9:00PM (EDT)

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global Post Sometimes, the universe really does just blow your mind.

NASA released the above image Friday from the Hubble Space Telescope showing a distant galaxy cluster so massive it has the ability to BEND LIGHT.

That's right.

Known as MACS J0454.1-0300, it's 180 trillion times the mass of our sun.

Because they're so large, galaxy clusters like this can change the behavior of space around them and bend the path of light as it travels through them, acting like a magnifying glass.

The effect actually makes it possible for astronomers to see objects so far away they would otherwise go undetected.

The latest image was released days after another spectacular Hubble photo, this one showing a distant spiral galaxy in the process, literally, of spilling its guts.

The galaxy, ESO 137-001, had apparently passed through a region of gas inside a galaxy cluster, with the opposing forces causing the spiral to leave a large portion of its innards trailing behind.

Poor ESO 137-001.

But seriously. How cool is that?

Watch astronomers talk about the galaxy's deadly passage here:

By Sarah Wolfe

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