'Space Invader' shows up in cosmic image

March 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM

GREENBELT, Md., March 5 (UPI) -- The gravitational field around a massive cluster of galaxies, acting as a natural lens, has created a cartoon-like "space invader" image, U.S. astronomers say.

The field around the cluster Abell 68 has brightened and magnified the light coming from very distant background galaxies to create what looks like a simulated alien from the classic 1970s video game "Space Invaders!" NASA reported Tuesday.

The Hubble space telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 captured the image, said astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope.

"Like a funhouse mirror, lensing creates a fantasy landscape of arc-like images and mirror images of background galaxies," the astronomers said in a statement. "These distorted images of distant galaxies are a particularly fine example of this phenomenon."

The Abell 68 cluster is about 2 billion light-years away, and the lensed image is of galaxies far behind it.

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