Meet the Frontier Fields: MACS J0416.1-2403

This is the second in a series of posts introducing and providing essential facts about each of the Frontier Fields.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us how the curvature of space causes the path of light from a more distant galaxy to bend as the light passes near a massive cluster of galaxies. The cluster of galaxies acts as a lens, magnifying and distorting the light from the more distant galaxy. This often leads to astronomers observing multiple “lensed images” of the distant galaxy. Compared to other commonly observed galaxy clusters, MACS J0416 is more efficient at producing multiple lensed images of background galaxies1. This means that we expect to find a higher than usual number of images for every galaxy lensed by MACS J0416.

The Massive Cluster Survey (MACS) contains a sample of more than 100 galaxy clusters, measured by the ROSAT telescope to be bright in high-energy X-ray light. The goals of the MACS survey are to categorize and better understand distant massive galaxy clusters.

(Left) Locations of Hubble’s observations of the MACS J0416 galaxy cluster, right, and the nearby parallel field, left, plotted over a Digital Sky Survey (DSS) image. The blue boxes outline the regions of Hubble’s visible light observations, and the red boxes indicate areas of Hubble’s infrared light observations. The 1’ bar, read as one arcminute, corresponds to approximately 1/30 the apparent width of the full moon as seen from Earth. (Right) Archival Hubble image of the MACS J0416 galaxy cluster taken in visible light. Left Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (STScI/NASA) and Z. Levay (STScI). Right Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH team.

Left: The locations of Hubble’s observations of the MACS J0416 galaxy cluster (right) and the adjacent parallel field (left) are plotted over a Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) image. The blue boxes outline the regions of Hubble’s visible-light observations, and the red boxes indicate areas of Hubble’s infrared-light observations. A scale bar in the lower left corner of the image indicates the size of the image on the sky. The scale bar corresponds to approximately 1/30th the apparent width of the full moon as seen from Earth. Astronomers refer to this unit of measurement as one arcminute, denoted as 1′.
Right: Hubble’s view of the galaxy cluster is displayed using archival visible-light observations. Deeper Frontier Fields observations of MACS J0416 are ongoing.
Left Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (STScI/NASA), and Z. Levay (STScI).
Right Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH team.

Estimated Dates of Observations: January-February 2014 and August-September 2014

The planned dates for Hubble observations of the Frontier Fields include observations approximately six months apart. This is the time it takes for the cameras on Hubble to swap positions so that both visible-light data and infrared-light data can be captured from the galaxy cluster field and the adjacent parallel field, as described in this post.

Galaxy Cluster Redshift: 0.396

Redshift measures the lengthening of a light wave from an object that is moving away from an observer. For example, when a galaxy is traveling away from Earth, its observed wavelength shifts toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum. The galaxy cluster’s cosmological redshift refers to a lengthening of a light wave caused by the expansion of the universe. Light waves emitted by a galaxy cluster stretch as they travel through the expanding universe. The greater the redshift, the farther the light has traveled to reach us.

Galaxy Cluster Distance: approximately 4 billion light-years

Galaxy Cluster Field Coordinates (R.A., Dec.): 04:16:08.9, -24:04:28.7

Parallel Field Coordinates (R.A., Dec.): 04:16:33.1, -24:06:48.7

Constellation: Eridanus

Related Hubble News:

Looking for Hubble data used by scientists?

References to science journal articles:

1: CLASH: The enhanced lensing efficiency of the highly elongated merging cluster MACS J0416.1-2403

2 thoughts on “Meet the Frontier Fields: MACS J0416.1-2403

  1. José Samperi Abillar.

    Precisamente por medio de su publicación en texto y vídeo se despertó en mi un mayor interés por las Lentes Gravitacionales sabia que deformaban la luz y acabe sabiendo que producen un efecto lupa y tratando correctamente la imagen por medios informáticos se consigue ver lo que oculta la Materia Oscura y aumentar la profundidad visual de campo de los telescopios ópticos. Todo esto nos aproxima más al punto de inicio Big Bang. La realidad es que tenemos un universo limitado en el espacio por ser la velocidad de la luz finita y ademas limitado igualmente en el tiempo es decir no es eterno y luego tenemos una serie de teorías como la Inflacción Cósmica y el Big Rip.
    Quizás la las mas bellas teorías de la física sean las que consigan un modelo unificado de la Teoría unificada del Todo e intenten explicar lo imposible si se puede. El situarse justo antes de este momento del Big Bang y razonar si este hecho ha podido darse con proliferación de cantidad de Big Bang. Todavia a la Física y a la Cosmologia le queda campo para soñar. La gran labor de divulgación científica que se realiza contribuye a ello. Sencillamente si sabemos de que forma es nuestro universo limitado en dimensiones y temporalidad y conocemos de alguna manera lo que dentro de el existe y contiene y sabemos de sobras que la evolución se da en todas las escalas y niveles. Este hecho hace apreciar y querer lo que tenemos y a su vez justifica nuestra existencia, por el hecho de que al ser nosotros como humanos la suma de todos los conocimientos desde nuestro origen nos hemos atrevido o intentado descubrirlo.
    Todo esto nos justifica como especie y hace que aceptemos la temporalidad en nuestras propias vidas. Cada uno de nosotros esta hecho a una escala infinitesimal del universo. Pero casi lo comprendemos en su totalidad y esto es como llegar a una lejana meta. El hecho es intentarlo.
    Esto es lo mejor de la actual investigación en las Ciencias del Cosmos. .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s