Astrophysicists discover Canarias Einstein Ring in space

Jun 7, 2016 14:12 IST

An international team of astrophysicists discovered a new optical Einstein ring called Canarias Einstein Ring. Einstein Ring is a distorted image of a galaxy, the source, which is very distant from the Earth.

The results of the discovery were published in the international journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on 16 May 2016.

The discovery was made by a team comprising of doctoral student Margherita Bettinelli from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL) of Spain.

Main findings of the Study

• The rare phenomenon was discovered in the Sculptor constellation, IAC J010127-334319, in the vicinity of the Sculptor Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.

• The discovered new source of galaxy (Einstein Ring) is an almost complete ring with an angle of 300 degree having a diameter of 4.5 arcsec.

• The discovered optical Einstein Ring shows two perfectly aligned galaxy, namely source galaxy and lens galaxy.

• The source galaxy is 10000 million light years away from Earth and it appears as a blue galaxy populated by young stars began to evolve. The young stars were forming at a high rate.

• The lens galaxy is 6000 million light years away from Earth and is more evolved, however, its stars have almost stopped forming, and its population is old.

How the Einstein Ring presence was confirmed?

Confirmation of the object was obtained by deriving spectroscopic redshifts for lens and source from observations at the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) with the spectrograph OSIRIS.

The chance discovery was made while inspecting the data taken through the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) of the 4m Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile.

What is an Einstein Ring?

• The phenomena were predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

• An Einstein ring is a distorted image of a very distant galaxy, which is termed the source.

• The ring is an illusion created by chance alignment of two galaxies.

• The distortion is produced by the bending of the light rays from the source due to a massive galaxy, termed the lens, lying between it and the observer.

• The strong gravitational field produced by the lens galaxy distorts the structure of space-time in its neighbourhood, and it not only attracts objects which have a mass, but also bends the paths of light.

• This change in alignment of two galaxies and the consequent bending of light rays create an illusion in the form of Einstein Ring.

Significance of the Einstein Ring

Studying Einstein Ring gives relevant information about the composition of the source galaxy, and also about the structure of the gravitational field and of the dark matter in the lens galaxy.

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