NASA’s Webb Space Telescope discovered a nearly perfect Einstein ring 12 billion light-years away

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a perfect Einstein ring nearly 12 billion light-years away. Such rings are the result of gravitational lensing phenomenon. Lensing occurs when the gravitational field of a massive object wraps around space and deflects light from distant galaxies behind it. A Reddit user recently shared a color image of the ring captured by the world’s largest and most powerful space science telescope. The galaxy involved in its formation is called SPT-S J041839-4751.8.

To create the image, Reddit user u/Spaceguy44, an astronomy graduate, processed data captured by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) camera after downloading it from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Rings form when two galaxies are almost perfectly aligned with each other.

The Einstein Ring image has different filters that affect the colors we see. The red is the F1000W filter, which captures wavelengths of light at 10µm while the green is due to the F770W filter which captures the 7.7µm wavelength. The blue color, meanwhile, is the F560W filter that captures the 5.6µm wavelength.

The user aligned and colored the images using a process known as Astronomy and then processed them.

According to u/Spaceguy44, the Milky Way would not have been visible without the gravitational lensing phenomenon. “Without the lensing effect, the Milky Way would probably look like the most distant galaxies: a tiny blob of light,” the user wrote.

The student explained that the effect of gravitational lensing can easily be seen at home using a wine glass. He explained that the stem and base of a wine glass have optical properties almost identical to those of a large gravitational lens. Therefore, a zooming effect can be observed using glass.


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