The Galaxy Cluster Abell 2218 is so massive that it magnifies and distorts images of faraway galaxies that appear as “arcs” throughout the picture. Copyright NASA/HST.
Comparison of the MOA-33 source oblateness with recent optical interferometry results for Achernar and Altair.
Fifty years after his death, Albert Einstein’s work still provides new tools for understanding our universe. An international team of astronomers has now used a phenomenon first predicted by Einstein in 1936, called gravitational lensing, to determine the shape of stars. This phenomenon, due to the effect of gravity on light rays, led to the development of gravitational optics techniques, among them gravitational microlensing. It is the first time that this well-known technique has been used to determine the shape of a star.
Most of the stars in the sky are point-like, making it very difficult to evaluate their shape. Recent progress in optical interferometry has made it possible to measure the shape of a few stars. In June 2003, for instance, the star Achernar (Alpha Eridani) was found to be the flattest star ever seen, using observations from the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (see ESO Press Release for details about this discovery). Until now, only a few measurements of stellar shape have been reported, partly due to the difficulty of carrying such measurements. It is important, however, to obtain further accurate determinations of stellar shape, as such measurements help to test theoretical stellar models.
For the first time, an international team of astronomers , led by N.J. Rattenbury (from Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK), applied gravitational lensing techniques to determine the shape of a star. These techniques rely on the gravitational bending of light rays. If light coming from a bright source passes close to a foreground massive object, the light rays will be bent, and the image of the bright source will be altered. If the foreground massive object (the “lens”) is point-like and perfectly aligned with the Earth and the bright source, the altered image as seen from the Earth will be a ring shape, the so-called “Einstein ring”. However, most real cases differ from this ideal situation, and the observed image is altered in a more complicated way. The image below shows an example of gravitational lensing by a massive galaxy cluster.
Dr. Jennifer Martin | EurekAlert!
Kiel physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids
16.01.2019 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Understanding insulators with conducting edges
16.01.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.
Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...
Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
17.01.2019 | Life Sciences
16.01.2019 | Life Sciences
16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy