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Astronomers have made a stunning discovery of “Einstein Cross,” where light from a distant galaxy is split and magnified by a foreground elliptical ground. This event was first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915 as a consequence of his theory of general relativity.
About Einstein Cross
The Einstein Cross is a fascinating astronomical phenomenon, discovered in 1985 by a team of astronomers led by Dennis Walsh. It is also known as Q2237+0305, located in the constellation Pegasus and had a redshift of z= 1.7 which makes it one of the most distant known quasars.
The phenomenon was named the “Einstein Cross” due to the cross-like pattern created by the four bright images of the quasar around the lensing galaxy.
The Gravitational Lensing Effect
Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity revealed that massive objects wrap the fabric of spacetime. According to Einstein, Gravity, is not a force rather a consequence of matter and energy and curving the space around them. As light from the quasar journeys through regions of intense spacetime curvature near massive galaxies, it bends and forms a captivating halo.
The Einstein Cross arrangement
In the case of newly discovered Einstein cross, the observer (Earth), the lensing galaxy (foreground elliptical) and the background quasar have aligned in a way that perfectly duplicates the quasar’s light. This alignment results in four smudges of blue light arranged around the orange of the foreground galaxy, a beautiful Einstein ring.
Insights from Einstein Rings
Einstein rings holds not only visual appeal but also scientific significance. These rings magnify and blend the light they receive, allowing astronomers to reconstruct the original, pre-bent light forms and observe distant galaxies in greater detail.
Cosmic scale and the measurement of the mass
The extent of light blending around an Einstein ring depends on the gravitational field strength of the object responsible for the blending. Consequently, these mesmerizing cosmic phenomena serve as cosmic scales for gauging the masses of galaxies and black holes, providing astronomers with a unique opportunity to study hidden objects such as black holes and distant exoplanets.
Discovery and follow-up analyses
The lens responsible for the Einstein Cross’s stunning display was recently developed in 2021 by the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
Follow-up analyses were conducted using the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic explorer at the very large telescope in Chile to confirm the discovery.