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News Release 9 of 21

January 12, 2011 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2011-04

In Deep Galaxy Surveys, Astronomers Get a Boost -- from Gravity

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 12, 2011: Astronomers are finding that the idiom "can't see the forest for the trees" applies to the universe of galaxies as well. In a paper published today in the science journal Nature, an international team of astronomers predicts that foreground galaxies will affect images of extremely far galaxies. The gravitational fields of the foreground galaxies distort space like a funhouse mirror. This means that a significant fraction of far background galaxies will appear on the sky near foreground galaxies. The good news is that the remote galaxies will appear brighter because of a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. This will need to be factored in when astronomers plan to look for the farthest galaxies in the universe with the planned James Webb Space Telescope.

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Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Wyithe (University of Melbourne), H. Yan (Ohio State University), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and S. Mao (Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics, and National Astronomical Observatories of China)