More than just a novelty, a very rare phenomenon found with the Hubble Space Telescope can offer insight into dark matter, dark energy, the nature of distant galaxies, and even the curvature of the Universe. A double Einstein ring has been found by an international team of astronomers led by Raphael Gavazzi and Tommaso Treu of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The discovery is part of the ongoing Sloan Lens Advanced Camera for Surveys (SLACS) program. They are reporting their results at the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas, USA. A paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.
This is an image of gravitational lens system SDSSJ0946+1006 as photographed by Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The gravitational field of an elliptical galaxy warps the light of two galaxies exactly behind it. The massive foreground galaxy is almost perfectly aligned in the sky with two background galaxies at different distances. The foreground galaxy is 3 billion light-years away, the inner ring and outer ring are comprised of multiple images of two galaxies at a distance of 6 and approximately 11 billion light-years. The odds of seeing such a special alignment are estimated to be 1 in 10,000. The right panel is a zoom onto the lens showing two concentric partial ring-like structures after subtracting the glare of the central, foreground galaxy Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Gavazzi and T. Treu (University of California, Santa Barbara)
The phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, occurs when a massive galaxy in the foreground bends the light rays from a distant galaxy behind it, in much the same way as a magnifying glass would. When both galaxies are exactly lined up, the light forms a circle, called an "Einstein ring”, around the foreground galaxy. If another more distant galaxy lies precisely on the same sightline, a second, larger ring will appear. The odds of seeing such a special alignment are so small that Tommaso says that they “hit the jackpot” with this discovery.
“Such stunning cosmic coincidences reveal so much about nature. Dark matter is not hidden to lensing,” added Leonidas Moustakas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, USA. “The elegance of this lens is trumped only by the secrets of nature that it reveals.”
The massive foreground galaxy is almost perfectly aligned in the sky with two background galaxies at different distances. The foreground galaxy is 3 billion light- years away. The inner ring and outer ring are comprised of multiple images of two galaxies at a distance of 6 billion and approximately 11 billion light-years.
SLACS team member Adam Bolton of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu first identified the lens in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). “The original signature that led us to this discovery was a mere 500 photons (particles of light) hidden among 500,000 other photons in the SDSS spectrum of the foreground galaxy,” commented Bolton.
“The twin rings were clearly visible in the Hubble image”, added Tommaso. “When I first saw it I said ‘wow, this is insane!’ I could not believe it!”
The distribution of dark matter in the foreground galaxies that is warping space to create the gravitational lens can be precisely mapped. In addition, the geometry of the two Einstein rings allowed the team to measure the mass of the middle galaxy precisely to be a value of 1 billion solar masses. The team reports that this is the first measurement of the mass of a dwarf galaxy at cosmological distance (redshift of z=0.6).
A sample of several dozen double rings such as this one would offer a purely independent measure of the curvature of space by gravity. This would help in determining the matter content of the Universe and the properties of dark energy.
Observations of the cosmic microwave background (a relic from the Big Bang) favour flat geometry. A sample of 50 suitable double Einstein rings would be sufficient to measure the dark matter content of the Universe and the equation of state of the dark energy (a measure of its pressure) to 10 percent precision. Other double Einstein rings could be found with wide-field space telescope sky surveys that are being proposed for the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) and recently recommended by the National Research Council.
Lars Christensen | alfa
Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond
23.11.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy
22.11.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences