The smears of light called the Molten Ring, stretched out and warped by gravitational fields, are magnifications and duplications of a galaxy whose light has traveled a whopping 9.4 billion light-years.
The phenomenon itself is called gravitational lensing, and while it has given us some absolutely amazing images, it also affords us brilliant opportunities to combine our own magnification capabilities â€“ telescopes â€“ with those of the Universe to see things that might otherwise be too far to make out clearly, or at all.
This means it hails from a time in which star formation was happening at a tremendous rate â€“ a thousand times faster than star formation in the Milky Way today.
With Hubble's images, the researchers were able to model the lensing effect to rebuild the smears and duplications of the Molten Ring into the galaxy that created it.
This revealed that the galaxy is on what is called the main sequence of star forming galaxies â€“ a correlation between galaxy mass and star formation rate â€“ with new stars being born at a rate of 70 to 170 solar masses per year.
There's a lot we still don't know about the early Universe, and how the stars formed â€“ but chance alignments such as the Molten Ring are helping us uncover their secrets