Yes, there's a photo of a smiley-faced "cheshire cat" in space and yes, it's insane
Looks like outer space is taking a page out of Disney’s book as evidenced by this recent picture of the Cheshire Cat Galaxy, named for exactly the reason you would think. Well, no. There’s no cats in the sky, at least not yet, but the formation of stars and planets and light in this photo sure does make it look like space is smiling down like sneaky cat (or a big smiley face emoji) upon us.
There is a super scientific reason why this “Cheshire Cat Galaxy” happens, but the gist of it, according to Wired, is that the light from this galaxy gets distorted and stretched by the mass contained in the galaxies in the front. This phenomenon is called “gravitational lensing” and it’s actually something Einstein came up with (incidentally, this month is the 100 year anniversary of the publication of his theory of general relativity).
This specific photo, captured by NASA and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, shows the Cheshire galaxies crashing into each other. Apparently, there’s also a supermassive black hole in the left “eye” but if I think about that stuff too hard my brain hurts.
It’s hard to believe that’s an actual photo of space, and not some CGI imagination of what we think it maybe looks like. Let’s be honest, it would be even better if this image had some galaxies in the shapes of cat ears and whiskers, but if our minds are able to comprehend the craziness of what we’re looking at, then I suppose our imaginations can do the rest.
(Images via Disney)