Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hubble captures a ’quintuple’ quasar

24.05.2006


The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first-ever picture of a distant quasar lensed into five images. In addition the image holds a treasure of lensed galaxies and even a supernova.

The most unique feature in this new image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is a group of five quasar images produced by a process called ‘gravitational lensing’. By this process the gravitational field of an extremely massive body - in this case, a cluster of galaxies - warps the surrounding space. The light emitted from an object - in this case, a quasar – travels amplified and bended, and multiple images of the light source may be seen, each taking a different path through the warped space.
Although other multiply lensed quasars have been seen before, this is the only case so far in which multiple quasar images are produced by an entire galaxy cluster acting as a gravitational lens.


The galaxy cluster creating the lens is known as SDSS J1004+4112 and was discovered as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. It is one of the more distant clusters known (seven thousand million light-years), and the image we observe today was ‘projected’ when the Universe was half of its present age. The cluster also creates a cobweb of images of other distant galaxies gravitationally lensed into arcs.

The background quasar observed by Hubble is the brilliant core of a galaxy. It is powered by a black hole, which is devouring gas and dust and creating a gusher of light in the process. When the quasar’s light passes through the gravity field of the galaxy cluster that lies between us and the quasar, the light is bent by the space-warping gravity field in such a way that five separate images of the object are produced around the cluster’s centre.

The fifth quasar image is embedded to the right of the core of the central galaxy in the cluster. A gravitational lens will always produce an odd number of lensed images, but one image is usually very weak and embedded deep within the light of the lensing object itself.

Though previous observations of SDSS J1004+4112 have revealed four of the images of this system, Hubble’s sharp vision and the high magnification of this gravitational lens combine to place a fifth image far enough from the core of the central imaging galaxy to make it visible as well.

The galaxy hosting the background quasar is at a distance of 10 thousand million light years, and it can be seen in the image as faint red arcs. This is the most highly magnified quasar host galaxy ever seen.

The Hubble picture also shows a large number of stretched arcs that are more distant galaxies lying behind the cluster, each of which is split into multiple distorted images. The most distant galaxy identified and confirmed so far is 12 thousand million light years away.

By comparing this image to a picture of the cluster obtained with Hubble a year earlier, the researchers discovered a rare event - a supernova exploding in one of the cluster galaxies. This supernova exploded seven thousand million years ago, and the data, together with other supernova observations, are being used to understand how the Universe was enriched by heavy elements through these explosions.

Lars Lindberg Christensen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM6UI9ATME_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms
20.02.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

nachricht Observing and controlling ultrafast processes with attosecond resolution
20.02.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>