Hubble captures glowing donut-shaped relic from 9 billion years ago
Nicknamed the “Molten Ring” because of its shape, the object captured by Hubble is one of the largest and nearly complete Einstein rings ever seen.
that of NASA Hubble captured an Einstein ring a year ago, and thanks to new research, scientists have now been able to calculate its age and extract more details about this cosmic oddity. As the name makes clear, Albert Einstein was the first to hypothesize the existence of such objects created due to a phenomenon called the gravitational lens. It’s a bit similar to curved mirrors that distort the appearance of objects, except, in this case, it happens on a much larger scale in space.
The concept isn’t too technical, however. When an object with a strong gravitational pull is between the source and the observer, it distorts the light coming from the source and creates optical illusions for the observer. In the case of an Einstein ring, the curvature of light creates an optical illusion that manifests as a massive ring in space. Sometimes the alignment of the gravitational deforming body and the light source is so perfect that the source looks much larger than it actually is, allowing scientists to study it in more detail.
The photo above capture by Hubble actually represents one of the largest and nearly complete Einstein rings ever. The object was labeled GAL-CLUS 022058s and the light coming out of it was actually magnified by a factor of 20, thanks to the gravitational lens. And because of its appearance, scientists have given it an appropriate nickname: the Molten Ring. Interestingly, the form in which the galaxy is depicted must have existed around 9 billion years ago, and the revived Hubble Space Telescope only sees it now due to the distance from the light source.
A relic from the burgeoning era of star formation
Once the Hubble-captured image of this Einstein ring was released, further research followed to unravel the mystery. Scientists created a gravitational lens model to study the effects of this spatial phenomenon in order to learn more about the physical characteristics of the galaxy that appears magnified in the image. Using data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists determined that the light from the source traveled approximately 9.4 billion light years. This was done by sensing molecular gas and Red Shift (a measure of how much the wavelength of light has been stretched) in this case.
Nikolaus Sulzenauer, research student at the Max Plank Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany and also a member of the team behind this study, noted that the galaxy shown in the Molten Ring is a regular galaxy with active star formation. Additionally, the galaxy appears to have spiral arms, regions where star formation tends to actively occur. As for location, GAL-CLUS 022058s is located in a southern hemisphere constellation called Fornax which contains four stars and translates to an oven in Latin. A very appropriate name for a constellation which lodges an object bearing the nickname “Molten Ring”.
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