The Hubble Telescope has captured a smiley in outer space! The ‘eyes’ and ‘curves’ actually come from a galaxy cluster found at a distance from us, caused by strong gravitational pulls between the galaxies.
Smiley from outer space
Smiley in space: fact or imagination?
In an age where we apparently best express our feelings using smileys, the universe seems to have let out a message in a similar language to us: the Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image depicting what looks like two yellow eyes with curved lines, bearing an eerie resemblance to our well-known smiley.
The glowing eyes and curves almost make up a smiling face. What does this mean? Is this the universe smiling back at us, or is it just an instance of pareidolia, similar to the one that was documented recently about a “coffin on planet Mars”?
The origin of the image
The image comes from a database of pictures captured by the telescope – the Hubble database. The smiley image was spotted by Judy Schmidt. It was sent to the Hidden Treasures competition of Hubble.
Smiley or galaxy?
The smiley in the skies is actually a galaxy cluster called SDSS J1038+4849.
What we might interpret to be eyes are actually two galaxies found at a considerable distance away from us. The image that we do see is the result of a phenomenon called strong gravitational lensing that is characterised by a powerful gravitational force between the two galaxies such that time and space surrounding them are distorted.