Snapshot: Hubble captures a ‘Molten Ring’

The distorted galaxy gets its elegant look thanks to the phenomenon of gravitational lensing.
By | Published: December 22, 2020 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
ESA/Hubble & NASA, S. Jha; Acknowledgment: L. Shatz
By peering deep into the vastness of space, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a distorted galaxy that could have been the subject of a Salvador Dalí painting. The ‘Molten Ring’ galaxy, officially named GAL-CLUS-022058s, is located in the southern constellation Fornax the Furnace.

This bizarre galaxy has an almost liquified appearance because it’s a terrific example of an Einstein ring, which is due to a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. The galaxy is not actually deformed, though. It just looks that way.

What we’re really seeing is a unique, lucky view of distant GAL-CLUS-022058s, which is far beyond the elliptical galaxy at the center of this shot. As the light from GAL-CLUS-02258s streams past the closer elliptical, the latter galaxy’s gravity bends in the path of the passing light, amplifying and distorting it into the view we see here.