A four-petal flower seen in space

by time news

2023-09-21 12:46:16

Image of Einstein’s Cross taken by the VLT – ESO/A. CIKOTA ET AL.


El ESO (European Southern Observatory) has published an image of the so-called Einstein Cross taken with the Very Large Telescope (VLT)located in Chile, which is reminiscent of a flower with blue petals.

These ‘petals’ are images of a distant galaxy hidden behind the orange galaxy in the center. What allows us to detect the light from this hidden object is a phenomenon by which the galaxy at the center acts as a gravitational lens, bending the light emitted by the distant galaxy around it.

As a result, we see several distorted and magnified images of the distant galaxy. In the configuration of these two specific galaxies, the hidden one appears as four images around the central galaxy that acts as a “lens”, forming a cross (or flower) shaped pattern called Einstein’s Cross. Gravitational lensing therefore allows us to discover hidden galaxies that would otherwise be invisible to us.

Observations of this system were made with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer MUSE instrument installed on the ESO VLT in Chile. MUSE divides the light from each point within the observed area into a rainbow or spectrum, providing the astronomical community a large amount of information about the objects present in the field of view.

The results of these observations, presented in a new paper led by Aleksandar Cikota of the Gemini Observatory (Chile), show that the distant galaxy is forming stars at a rapid rate. Since the light left the galaxy when the universe was about 20% of its current age, studying it provides clues about how galaxies formed in the early universe, ESO reports in a statement.

#fourpetal #flower #space

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