Nasa’s James Webb telescope captures stunning ‘Bejeweled’ Einstein ring

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Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a remarkable image of a “bejeweled” halo of light, known as an Einstein ring, generated by a quasar. This quasar, RX J1131-1231, is located approximately 6 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Crater.
The Einstein ring, characterized by its luminous loop adorned with four bright spots, results from a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. Gravitational lensing occurs when the light from a distant object, such as a quasar, travels through space-time that has been curved by the gravity of another massive object situated between the distant object and the observer. This curvature causes the light to bend around the intervening object, creating a ring-like appearance, a Live Science report said.
The quasar RX J1131-1231, which is a supermassive black hole at the center of a young galaxy, emits powerful energy jets as it consumes enormous amounts of matter. The light from this quasar is being lensed by a nearby unnamed galaxy, visible as a blue dot in the center of the luminous ring. The lensing effect not only magnifies our view of the quasar but also duplicates its light, resulting in the four bright spots seen in the image. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), these bright spots are actually mirror images of a single bright spot, created by the lensing effect.
Einstein rings, like the one captured by JWST, are crucial for astronomical research. They allow scientists to study extremely distant objects that would otherwise be almost invisible. The magnification effect of gravitational lensing provides detailed views of these objects, helping researchers to understand their properties and behavior. Additionally, the study of gravitationally lensed objects enables scientists to calculate the mass of the lensing galaxy and infer the amount of dark matter it contains. Dark matter, a mysterious substance that does not interact with light but influences gravitationally, is a key focus of modern astrophysics.
The concept of gravitational lensing was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity in 1915. Although the light in this JWST image does not form a perfect circle, the ring shape remains an intriguing and valuable tool for astronomers. Previous observations of RX J1131-1231 have shown that the light from this quasar is not perfectly aligned with the observer, leading to the distorted ring shape.
Einstein rings and other gravitationally lensed objects provide hidden information about distant celestial bodies. For example, in 2014, researchers used the light from RX J1131-1231 to determine the spin rate of its supermassive black hole. The size and shape of these lensed objects allow scientists to gather data that can reveal the secrets of the universe, including the nature of dark matter.

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