Hubble captures Einstein’s “molten” ring – “A truly strange and very rare phenomenon”


The NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope recorded what they describe as a “truly strange and very rare phenomenon” – the largest and one of the most complete Einstein rings ever discovered in our universe. The object GAL-CLUS-022058s – which Einstein first assumed existed in his general theory of relativity – was studied by astronomers as Einstein’s ring as the “Melted Ring”, alluding to its appearance in the constellation Fornax in the southern hemisphere (furnace).

Einstein’s theory of gravity

The phenomenon of the gravitational lens cannot be explained without general relativity. Einstein’s theory of gravity, which is said to be the greatest single achievement of theoretical physics, has resulted in beautiful relationships linking gravitational phenomena to the geometry of the universe, said Caltech’s great physicist Richard Feynman.

Einstein first assumed that in his general theory of relativity, the unusual shape of this object, its geometry, Hubble reports, “can be explained by a process called gravitational lens . In this case, the light from the background of the galaxy is distorted into a curve that we see by the gravity of the cluster of the galaxy sitting in front of it. The almost exact alignment of the background galaxy with the central elliptical galaxy of the cluster, seen in the middle of this image, distorted and magnified the image of the background galaxy into an almost perfect ring. Gravity from other galaxies in the cluster causes additional distortions. “

Objects like these are ideal laboratories for studying galaxies that are often too faint and distant to be seen without a gravitational lens.

“The latest results from astronomers studying the occasional gravitational lens of unknown worlds using intervening stars,” says SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak, “suggest that orphan planets could be at least as numerous as stars. In other words, there could be hundreds of billions of parentless worlds wading through our galaxy. “

Daily Galaxy, Sam Cabot, via NASA

Image credit: ESA / Hubble & NASA, S. Jha)