Einstein ring image captured by James Webb Space Telescope

Einstein ring image captured by James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope

A near-perfect Einstein ring has been captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, an effect caused by gravitational lensing.

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured an image of an almost perfect “Einstein ring.” Einstein rings are light rings created when light from a galaxy, star or other light-emitting cosmic object passes near a massive object before it reaches the Earth, or in this case, the Webb telescope.

Gravitational lensing causes light to be diverted, and if the source, lens, and observing element are all aligned perfectly, this light appears as a ring. Specifically, this example was formed using the light from a distant galaxy called SPT-S J041839-4751.8, which is around 12 billion light-years away, making it the oldest galaxy in the universe.

From Webb’s perspective, this galaxy is directly behind another galaxy that is so massive that its gravitational pull warps space and time. There is a blue object in the middle of the ring that is a foreground galaxy. Light from the background galaxy must cross the warped space-time near the foreground galaxy in order to reach the Webb telescope. Light appears as a curved ring because of this phenomenon.

Reddit user Spaceguy44 posted this image to the r/Astronomy subreddit on the platform, according to Space.com. The Reddit bio of Spaceguy44 describes the user as an astronomy graduate student.

Einstein rings are formed when light from distant cosmic objects travel through space-time warped by massive objects.
Einstein rings are formed when light from distant cosmic objects travel through space-time warped by massive objects.

The James Webb Space Telescope captured this image of an Einstein ring. The image is courtesy of NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/u/spaceguy44 on Reddit.

MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) on the James Webb Space Telescope captured the image. In addition to downloading the Webb telescope data, the Reddit user processed and colored it using software suites such as Astropy. Using GIMP, an open-source Photoshop alternative, further processing was carried out.

In this mosaic image, Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region in a new light, including tens of thousands of previously hidden young stars. The image is credited to NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and the Webb ERO Production Team.
In this mosaic image, Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region in a new light, including tens of thousands of previously hidden young stars. The image is credited to NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and the Webb ERO Production Team.

An unprecedented view of a star-forming region known as the Tarantula Nebula has been provided by the James Webb Space Telescope.

In the stellar nursery, officially called 30 Doradus, thousands of never-before-seen young stars have been discovered using the James Webb Space Telescope’s high-resolution infrared instruments. 

A $10 billion space telescope has captured incredible detail of the nebula, which includes gas and dust as well as distant galaxies in the background.