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.
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.
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