Paging Star-Lord! Hubble Spies Hundreds of Galaxies That Need Guarding

Abell 370 galaxy cluster
Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy cluster Abell 370. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team (STScI))

As Star-Lord and his team head to the big screen this weekend to guard a galaxy in the Marvel universe, new images from the Hubble Space Telescope remind us that there are far more galaxies in our own universe without any superheroes to protect them from evil villains. 

"Much like the eclectic group of space rebels in the upcoming film 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2', NASAs Hubble Space Telescope has some amazing superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing innumerable galaxies flung across time and space," NASA officials said in a statement that was published along with some incredible new views of galaxies in deep space.

A gorgeous galaxy cluster named Abell 370 stars in the images, which NASA released on Thursday (May 4). The cluster contains hundreds of galactic neighbors bound together by their own gravitational pull. Abell 370 lies about 4 billion light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster). But you can also see more distant galaxies that lie behind the cluster. [The 10 Must-Read 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Stories]

The background galaxies in appear cloudy and distorted due to an effect called gravitational lensing. All that gravity from the hundreds of galaxies inside the cluster bands the light that comes from the other side, causing those distant objects to appear warped. 

"These far-flung galaxies are too faint for Hubble to see directly, NASA officials said in the statement. "Instead, the cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror." One of these warped galaxies seen in Hubble's new images is nicknamed "the Dragon" for its shape and size. 

These images from the Hubble Space Telescope's Frontier Fields program features massive galaxy clusters that act as gravitational lenses in space, magnifying and stretching images of distant objects in the background that would otherwise be too small and faint for Hubble to see. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, and the HFF team)

Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble telescope has provided the deepest views of the cosmos we've even seen. Unlike the superpowers of the heroes in the Marvel realm, Hubble's superpower is far from science fiction. So if and when you decide to go see "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (which hits movie theaters Friday, May 5), maybe you'll take a moment to stop and think about the countless defenseless galaxies in the real universe that Hubble is keeping an eye on. 

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.