Hubble Telescope finds a light-bending galaxy cluster in space

Einstein rings allow scientists to observe distant and dim objects in space.
By Lliane Hunter | Apr 11, 2018
Hubble Telescope has captured a galaxy cluster called SDSS J0146-0929 that features hundreds of individual galaxies bound together by gravity, writes Elizabeth Howell for The cluster has so much mass that it distorts light from objects behind it. This spectacle is called an Albert Einstein ring, and itoccurs when the most massive galaxies and galaxy clusters get in line with a more distant object.

Also known as gravitational lenses, these rings divert and distort the light from background galaxies. It forces light to"to travel along many different light paths toward Earth, making it seem as though the galaxy is in several places at once," NASA said in a statement. The lightforms acircle around the galaxy cluster andis a visual indicator of the huge masses that are bending time and space in that region. Astronomers take advantage of gravitational lenses when they are trying to look at faraway objects, Howell explains. The rings magnify objects that otherwise are too distant to see in today's telescopes.

In 2015, this method of observation allowed astronomers to find star-forming regions in a galaxy formed just 2.4 billion years after the Big Bang. In 2016, scientists discovered another Einstein ring in a star group within the Sculptor dwarf galaxy. Scientific teams planto use the Sculptor dwarf galaxy ring to observe the nature of dark matter.


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