Pilot Experiment Discovers New ‘Einstein Ring’

First Posted: Jun 01, 2016 08:01 AM EDT

A pilot experiment discovered a new Einstein ring", a strange astronomical object, by PhD student Margherita Bettinelli of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the University of La Laguna, along with an international team of astrophysicists. The phenomenon, which was predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity, is quite rare yet scientifically interesting. According to reports, the attention being given is strong enough that the object has been called the Canarias Einstein ring.

Einstein ring is a distorted representation a very far galaxy named "the source." The distortion is made by the bending of the light rays coming from the source because of the vast galaxy named "the lens", which lies between it and the observer. A strong gravitational field generated by the lens galaxy is distorting the structure of space-time in the neighborhood, not only attracting objects with mass, but it also bends the directions of light. When both galaxies are exactly lined up, the image of a more distant galaxy converts into nearly perfect circle surrounding the lens galaxy. The circle's irregularities are caused by the asymmetries in the source galaxy.

The pilot experiment was being conducted by Margherita Bettinelli while she was studying the data taken through Dark Energy Camera of the 4m Blanco Telescope at Chile's Cerro Tololo Observatory. Bettinelli said she was analyzing the stellar number of the Sculptor dwarf galaxy when she noticed the unusual morphology of the Einstein ring. This immediately raised attention that later led to observation and analysis of its physical properties using the OSIRIS spectrograph on the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, according to Space.

The "Canarias  Einstein ring" is one of the most  aligned discovered until now that is nearly circular, which shows that both galaxies are more or less perfectly aligned, with a division on the sky of only 0.2 arcseconds.

Based on research, the source galaxy is 10,000 million light years away from Earth, and because of the enlargement of the Universe, such distance was smaller when the light began on its journey to us, taking 8,500 million years to get here, Laht reported.

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