Webb telescope sees bizarre galaxy cluster triplets

Look closely at this image, and you might think you’re seeing triple.

A new James Webb Space Telescope photo showcases three copies of the same galaxy cluster hosting a supernova, the brightest and most violent type of space explosion known.

The cosmic triplets aren’t artifacts of a defective telescope but a quirk of nature called “gravitational lensing(Opens in a new tab),” something predicted in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity over a century ago.

How does gravitational lensing work?

Gravitational lensing happens when a celestial object has such a massive gravitational pull that it warps the time and space around it. NASA often uses the analogy of a bowling ball placed on a foam mattress or trampoline to illustrate how the fabric of spacetime bends. Light that would otherwise travel straight curves and gets distorted as it passes through the warped spacetime.