|NASA is attempting to look deep into the universe|
The telescopes will make use of a natural phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, owing to the large number of natural "zoom lenses" astronomers have found in space. For three years, all three space telescopes will collectively observe six major galaxies to uncover not only what lies within these clusters of stars but also what lies beyond them.
These six galaxies are among the most massive assemblages of matter known, and their gravitational fields can be used to brighten and magnify more distant galaxies so they can be observed.
"The Frontier Fields program is exactly what NASA's great observatories were designed to do; working together to unravel the mysteries of the Universe" said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Each observatory collects images using different wavelengths of light with the result that we get a much deeper understanding of the underlying physics of these celestial objects."
The first galaxy that the three telescopes will observe is the Abell 2744, commonly known as Pandora's Cluster. This galaxy has caught the fancy of many astronomers because it has been responsible for the formation of at least four separate but smaller clusters over a period of 35 million years. The space agency is hopeful that these observations will help them uncover galaxies that existed when the Universe was relatively young but hadn't been found yet.
"The idea is to use nature's natural telescopes in combination with the great observatories to look much deeper than before and find the most distant and faint galaxies we can possibly see," said Jennifer Lotz, a principal investigator with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.
While data collected from Hubble and Spitzer will be used to measure galaxies' distances and masses more accurately than either observatory could measure alone, Chandra will be responsible for looking deeper into each clusters and will use X-ray wavelengths to help determine their masses and measure their gravitational lensing power, and identify background galaxies hosting supermassive black holes. The mission will also make use of high-resolution Hubble data from the Frontier Fields program to trace the distribution of dark matter within the six galaxies observed.