Nasa has shared an incredible Hubble image showcasing an enormous galaxy cluster located in a distant part of the universe some 9.7 billion light-years away from Earth.

Massive galaxy clusters form over several billions of years when gravitationally-bound galaxies come together over billions of years.

The image we see here shows one such closely-packed group dubbed ACT-CLJ0102-4915. It is located some 9.7 billion light-years away from Earth and is the biggest, brightest, and hottest galaxy cluster ever observed.

Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 snapped the object when it was looking for the universe's brightest galaxies under a programme called Reionisation Lensing Cluster Survey or RELICS.

As Nasa says, the distant group is the largest to have been observed till date. It carries the weight of three million billion suns and has been nicknamed El Gordo for that reason - a Spanish moniker that means "the fat one" in English.

El Gordo is a combination of two galaxy clusters colliding at several million kilometres per hour, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Nasa's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope observed in 2012. A couple of years later, the American space agency detailed its staggering mass and found it was 43% larger than originally thought.

Of this mass, a very small fraction is taken up by regular matter like hot gas, while the majority is made up of dark matter. According to the agency, the invisible matter is tearing through the regular matter and slowing down the gas as a result of the ongoing collision between the two clusters.
Studying clusters like these, which are apparently the biggest objects in space, could give scientists new insights into dark matter and its elusive nature.

The beautiful cosmic shot comes just a few days after Nasa released an image showcasing SPT0615-JD, the farthest galaxy which came into existence when the 13-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old. The galaxy carries the weight of three billion Suns, according to the space agency.

Embryonic Galaxy SPT0615-JD
The farthest, oldest galaxy captured by Nasa NASA/ESA/STScI/B. Salmon