In this Hubble image, we glimpse the colossal galaxy cluster known as Abell 3192. Illuminated by brightly glowing galaxies, the cluster is infused with hot, X-ray-emitting gas and shrouded in an unseen halo of dark matter. The cumulative mass of this concealed material, coupled with the numerous visible galaxies, exerts a gravitational influence that visibly warps spacetime, transforming the cluster into a gravitational lens. As a result, smaller galaxies situated behind the cluster are distorted into elongated, warped arcs encircling the periphery of the cluster.
Situated in the constellation Eridanus, the galaxy cluster Abell 3192 poses a nuanced challenge regarding its distance from Earth. Initially cataloged in the 1989 update of the Abell catalog, which originated in 1958, Abell 3192 was initially perceived as a singular cluster concentrated at a uniform distance. However, subsequent investigations unveiled an unexpected revelation: the cluster’s mass exhibited denseness at two separate points, deviating from the initial assumption of a single concentration.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the initial Abell cluster is, in fact, composed of two distinct and independent galaxy clusters. The first is a foreground group positioned approximately 2.3 billion light-years from Earth, while the second is situated at a more substantial distance of about 5.4 billion light-years from our planet. The farther galaxy cluster, cataloged in the Massive Cluster Survey as MCS J0358.8-2955, takes center stage in the featured image.
These two galaxy groups are estimated to possess masses equivalent to around 30 trillion and 120 trillion times the mass of the Sun, respectively. Notably, the two largest galaxies at the image’s center belong to MCS J0358.8-2955, while the smaller galaxies visible here represent a blend from both groups within the overarching structure of Abell 3192.