Breathtaking ‘Einstein Ring’ Reveals Views of Galaxy 9.4 Billion Light-Years Away

Breathtaking ‘Einstein Ring’ Reveals Views of Galaxy 9.4 Billion Light-Years Away

Breathtaking ‘Einstein Ring’ Reveals Views of Galaxy 9.4 Billion Light-Years Away

One of the most spectacular Einstein rings ever observed in space enables us to see what is happening in the Milky Way at approximately the beginning of time.

Smears of light called molten rings, stretched and deformed by gravitational fields, are a magnification and repeat of a galaxy whose light has traveled 9.4 billion light-years. This magnification has given us a rare insight into the stellar ‘baby boom’ when the universe was still in its infancy.

Understanding the early evolution of the universe is a difficult time. It came into existence about 13.8 billion years ago as we understand it, about 1 billion years after the first light (we think) emerged. Light traveling for that time is faint, its sources are small, and dust obscures much of it.

Even the most intrinsically luminous objects are extraordinarily difficult to observe in that gulf of space-time, so there are large gaps in our understanding of how the universe assembled itself from the elemental soup.

But sometimes the universe itself gives us a helping hand. If a massive object sits between us and a more distant object, the magnification effect is caused by the gravitational curvature of space-time around the near object.

Any light that travels through this space-time follows this curvature and enters our telescopes which is blurred and distorted – but magnified and re-magnified. These are called Einstein rings, because the effect was predicted by, you guessed it, Albert Einstein.

This phenomenon itself is called gravitational lensing, and while it has given us some absolutely stunning images, it also gives us great opportunities to combine our own magnifying abilities – telescopes – to see things in the universe that may be too far to make otherwise. explicitly, or at all.

The Molten Ring (formally named GAL-CLUS-022058s) is an Einstein ring that has been magnified by the gravitational field around a massive cluster of galaxies in the constellation of Fornax. This effect is so powerful that the distant galaxy is not only visible in four distorted images, but it is magnified by a factor of 20.

When paired with the Hubble Space Telescope, the resulting images are just as detailed and sharp as observations taken with a telescope with a massive 48-meter aperture. From this, a team of researchers led by Anastasio Díaz-Sánchez of the Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena in Spain worked out that light from the Milky Way has traveled 9.4 billion light-years.

This means that it is from a time when star formation was occurring at a tremendous rate – a thousand times faster than star formation in the Milky Way today. Knowing more about this star-forming period in the history of the universe may help us better understand how the galaxies of today evolved. However, usually we can’t see galaxies very well; Apart from the distance, they are very dusty.

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With Hubble’s images, the researchers were able to model the lensing effect by reconstructing smears and repeats of the molten ring in the galaxy that formed it.

“Such a model can only be achieved with Hubble imaging,” Diaz-Sanchez said. “In particular, Hubble helped us identify four duplicate images and stellar clumps of the lensed galaxy.”

This showed that the Milky Way is on what is called the main sequence of star-forming galaxies – a correlation between galaxy mass and star formation rates – with new stars being born at a rate of 70 to 170 solar masses per year. In contrast, the Milky Way has a star formation rate of only a few solar masses per year.

We still don’t know much about the early universe, and how stars formed – but coincidental alignments like the Molten Ring are helping us uncover their secrets.

Source: Nation World News

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Breathtaking ‘Einstein Ring’ Reveals Views of Galaxy 9.4 Billion Light-Years Away

 

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