James Webb photographed the immaculate Einstein Ring

The James Webb Space Telescope captured an image of a galaxy 12 billion light-years away. It features extremely regular Einstein Ring. This effect is caused by the bending of rays by gravity.

Ідеальне «кільце Ейнштейна» від James Webb
The perfect Einstein Ring. Source: www.sciencealert.com

The perfect Einstein Ring

The James Webb Space Telescope, which recently began its first year-long mission to study the universe, captured the galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8. It is located at the distance of 12 billion light years from us. Its colored image was posted on the web by one of the research participants.

The main feature of this galaxy is the circular structure that surrounds it. This is the so-called Einstein Ring, which is a kind of optical illusion. In fact, there is no real circle near the galaxy. We just see the light from an object behind it distorted by the gravitational field.

It was not the first time when scientists observed it Einstein’s Ring. However, the samples seen so far were open and very uneven. And in this case, the relative positopn of the Earth, of the galaxy and of the light source turned out to be perfect.

Зображення гравітаційної лінзи вгорі
Colorized photo by James Webb. Source: JWST/MAST; Spaceguy44/Reddit

A homemade gravitational lens

When the gravitational field bends the light, it can collect it from a large area and allow us to learn more about the hidden object. This effect is called gravitational lens. According to scientists, the galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8 would not be discernible at all without this phenomenon.

Scientists also shared a recipe for a “homemade gravitational lens” akin to the image of the disk of Proxima Centauri, which turned out to be a picture of a sausage. In order to get something similar to Einstein’s Ring at home, you need something as simple as a wine glass.

Without filling it with liquid, you need to direct the stem at something small — for example, at a text on a page — and look through it. The nature of this phenomenon is not gravitational at all, but the effect is very similar.