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Breaking: James Webb Telescope captures a near-perfect ‘Einstein-Ring’ in space

JWST Captures Possibly the Most Perfect Einstein Ring Galaxy Ever Seen

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) seems to be unstoppable in discovering evidence of amazing celestial bodies beyond our atmosphere, from catching stunning spiral galaxies to looking for life on other planets to exposing auroras on Jupiter. The most recent discovery, which arrived at us after traveling almost 12 billion light-years, is the sharpest depiction of what may be the most ideal and comprehensive Einstein ring galaxy.

The photograph and a description of what it is were submitted on August 23 by Spaceguy44, an astronomer, Ph.D. student, and Reddit user. JWST’s MIRI detector captured the image, which Spaceguy44 then colored and aligned. Two galaxies are in view; one is the ring-shaped galaxy, and the other is the blue dot in the middle.

However, not everything is as it seems; rather than a ring-shaped galaxy, there is a galaxy whose appearance has been twisted. The distorted picture that results is referred to as an Einstein ring, which is a unique kind of gravitational lensing.

The simplest kind of gravitational lensing, according to NASA, happens when there is a single concentration of matter at the center, such as the dense core of a galaxy. Around its center, a distant galaxy’s light is diverted, often creating several pictures of the background galaxy.

JWST Einstein Ring
James Webb Telescope captures a near-perfect Einstein-Ring – NASA

Hubble’s picture of Abell 370 serves as an example of gravitational lensing. If you want to witness this effect in action, the stem and base of a wine glass almost exactly imitate it, according to Spaceguy44 on Reddit. The “full or almost-complete circle of light” that distinguishes Einstein’s rings is particularly distinctive and unusual because the circle of light is often clumpy, imperfect, and asymmetrical in many gravitational lensing instances.

Hubble’s August 2021 image of 2M1310-1714 is one of many earlier pictures of Einstein rings that have been taken, but none seem to be as full or flawless as this new one from the Redditor. SPT-S J041839-4751.8, also known as J0418, is the galaxy that has produced the virtually flawless ring.

According to Spaceguy44, J0418 “would presumably seem like most distant galaxies: a little blob of light.” In reality, his claim has been supported by the reconstruction of a picture of the galaxy by scientists. It’s amazing how well-positioned JWST, background galaxy J0418, and background galaxy were to capture this picture.

A phenomenon known as gravitational lensing may be present while collecting galaxies. When a large foreground galaxy warps the picture of a background galaxy, numerous versions of the background galaxy are produced.

Gravitational Lensing
Galaxy cluster Abell 370, located about 4 billion light-years away, contains an astounding assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. Entangled among the galaxies are mysterious-looking arcs of blue light. These are actually distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. These far-flung galaxies are too faint for Hubble to see directly. Instead, the gravity from the cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. Nearly 100 distant galaxies have multiple images caused by the lensing effect. The most stunning example is “the Dragon,” an extended feature that is probably several duplicated images of a single background spiral galaxy stretched along an arc. Astronomers chose Abell 370 as a target for Hubble because its gravitational lensing effects can be used for probing remote galaxies that inhabited the early universe. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team (STScI)

An Einstein ring is a more uncommon gravitational lensing phenomenon in which the backdrop galaxy’s twisted image forms an almost perfect ring. In a fascinating turn of events, a Reddit user by the name of Spaceguy44—who also happens to be an astronomer and grad student—posted a picture of what seems to be the most perfectly formed Einstein ring ever seen, as spotted by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Source: NASA, MyModernMet

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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