Where In The Universe #99

It’s time once again for another Where In The Universe Challenge. Test your visual knowledge of the cosmos by naming where in the Universe this image was taken and give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for this picture. Post your guesses in the comments section, and check back on later at this same post to find the answer. To make this challenge fun for everyone, please don’t include links or extensive explanations with your answer. Good luck!

Also, I’d like to do something special for next week’s WITU Challenge. It will be number 100!! Send your ideas of dastardly intriguing stumpers to me at this email address.

UPDATE: The answer is now posted below.

Just what the heck is this thing? Answers ranged from Skeletor’s skull, to the back end of a space shuttle to the face on Mars to (my favorite) Wilson! (Tom Hanks’ pal in the movie Cast Away).

This is a gravitationally lensed quasar, PG 1115+080, that is split and distorted by the lensing. It was captured in infrared by the Hubble Space Telescope way back in 1998, and is one of the rare cases where a quasar is almost perfectly lined up with an intervening galaxy.

For more info on this image check out this HubbleSite page.

And check back next week for the big #100 of the WITU challenge!

21 Replies to “Where In The Universe #99”

  1. The underside of the shuttle just as the solid rocket boosters are separating.

    Or the rear end of Dark Helmets spaceship on Mel Brooks classic “Space Balls” (we brake for nothing)

  2. Of course it could be gravitational lensing…that was my first thought until I read Mister T’s comment…(I pity the fool!)

  3. This is the Skull of Skeletor, clearly…


    OK, then it’s a faraway galaxy being gravitationally lensed by the central object, perhaps. It doesn’t feel like something Hubble would come up with, though… but maybe it is.

  4. Oh no, it’s Mr. Bill! I have no clue what this could really be, business end of the shuttle sounds as reasonable as anything else.

  5. The ISS.

    (I have absolutely no idea what it is, but that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the image.)

  6. This appears similar to the The Gravitational Lens G2237 + 0305, or for that matter the “eye lash” gravitational lensing discussed the other day. If so I am not sure why the background is orange. Are we seeing through a portion of the lensing galaxy? That is about as close as my guess gets.


  7. As much as it would like it to be the Shuttle, the “light sources” don’t add up. One from the main engines on the shuttle (there are three of them, of course, but they are too close to resolved during flight, I would assume), two from the SRBs — what’s the fourth, then?

    Answer: Gravitation lens system PG 1115+80. NICMOS on the Hubble.

  8. Center of Eskimo Nebula? Hubble? Probably not, but thaz all I can come up with….

  9. It’s the face on the Sun! Proof that there are aliens living on the Sun. Just like the face on Mars.

  10. I’m voting for lensing, since at least to my overactive imagination, the two top circles has a similar “bump” on the lower right corner.

    The long axis of the rectangle is not quite aligned with the line between the centers of the two top circles though, but I don’t have a lot of experience looking at GL images, so don’t know if that’s a hypothesis killer…

    Nice riddle.

  11. It is a William Shatner mask…..

    Or perhaps Wilson.. Tom Hanks’ best friend..

  12. Obviously and Gamma Ray picture of the face on Mars. Finally proof that it was made by aliens…or bigfoot…or another “really” lost tribe of Israel.

  13. Navneeth clinched it! I thought this was an example of Einstein lensing.


  14. Claiming it is gravitational lensing is just a conspiracy by the good folks at Universe Today to help NASA hide a secret shuttle launch that is going to Mars to find all of those missing satellites and to break into the hidden alien base under the “face on Mars”

    The rectangular light source is the special new engine that will allow the shuttle to break orbit.

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