Three distinct moments in a distant supernova explosion were captured in a single snapshot by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The star exploded 11 billion years ago, when the universe was less than a fifth of its current age of 13.8 billion years.
The research could help scientists learn more about the formation of stars and galaxies in the early universe.
Images of supernovae are also special because they show the earliest stages of a stellar explosion.
Wenli Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota's School of Physics and Astronomy, explained, "It's quite rare.
That a supernova can be detected at a very early stage is because that stage is really short.
It lasts only a few hours to a few days, and can be easily missed even for nearby identifications.
This was possible through a phenomenon called gravitational lensing, which was first predicted in Einstein's theory of general relativity.
In this case, the extreme gravity of the galaxy cluster Abell 370 acted as a cosmic lens.
which bends and magnifies the light from more distant supernovae located behind the cluster.