K. SHARON / TEL AVIV U. / NASA / ESA / STSCI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY K. SHARON / TEL AVIV U. / NASA / ESA / STSCI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Quintuple quasar (SDSS J1004+4112), optical image. Quasars are very distant yet luminous astronomical objects. They are the centres of active galaxies, emitting vast quantities of radiation as matter gravitates towards supermassive black holes. The quintuple quasar is in fact a single quasar, but five images of it are seen as a result of gravitational lensing. A large mass concentration, in this case a cluster of galaxies, between the quasar and Earth bends and amplifies the light, causing multiple images (seen as the bright orange spot, centre, and the four bright nearby spots, white). The quasar lies around 7 billion light years from Earth in the constellation Leo Minor. This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), also shows several other lensed images of galaxies.
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