The force of gravity: Hubble telescope photographed Einstein ring

The Hubble mission team has published a very interesting image taken by a space telescope. It demonstrates a phenomenon known as the Einstein ring.

Einstein ring photographed by the Hubble telescope. Source:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, H. Nayyeri, L. Marchetti, J. Lowenthal

Einstein ring is a type of gravitational lens. It is formed when light from a very distant object is distorted into an annular shape by the gravity of a closer object. The phenomenon occurs when the radiation source, the lensed object and the lensing object are on the same straight line.

In this case, the lens was the galaxy SDSS J020941.27+001558.4, which is located 2.7 billion light-years from Earth. The bright dot at the top of the Einstein ring created by its gravity corresponds to the galaxy SDSS J020941.23+001600.7, which apparently is quite close to it. 

The ring consists of light emitted by a much more distant galaxy. Astronomers estimate that, due to the expansion of the Universe, it is now located at a distance of 19.5 light years from Earth.

Scientists are actively using gravitational lenses to study the Universe. They make it possible to observe objects so far away and dim that even the most powerful telescopes would not be able to see them under normal circumstances.

Earlier, we talked about how the James Webb Telescope photographed Einstein perfect ring.

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