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Artist's rendering of the James Webb Space Telescope observing in space.

'Cosmic lens' reveals distant galaxies and helps astronomers better understand dark matter

The Fishhook. The Thin One. These are just two of several striking-looking targets revealed by a cluster of galaxies so massive that it acts as a gravitational lens, literally bending light around it and revealing distant and dusty objects too faint and too distant to be seen otherwise.

A new image of this galaxy cluster, known as El Gordo (Spanish for The Big One), taken by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, shows a variety of unusual, distorted galaxies – 62 in all – behind the cluster that were only hinted at in previous Hubble Space Telescope images.

El Gordo is a cluster of hundreds of galaxies that existed when the universe was 6.2 billion years old, according to Brenda Frye, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory and lead author of one of four papers published about the cluster in The Astrophysical Journal.

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