Science

NASA’s Webb Telescope Snaps Jewelled Ring 6 Billion Light-Years Away In Space

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a jewelled ring in interstellar space. This feature has been created by the fascinating phenomenon of gravitational lensing which was predicted by Albert Einstein.

The image shared by NASA shows a small elliptical galaxy warping space to such an extent that the quasar is visible as four different objects from Webb’s vantage point. This has made it the best lensed quasar ever discovered.

Quasars are highly luminous objects at the center of a galaxy, and this particular one named RX J1131-1231 is located roughly 6 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Crater.

The image shows three bright spots of light and a smaller fourth one below them. All these spots are copies of the quasar as light emerging from it was bent by the immense gravity of the galaxy before reaching the Webb telescope.

ALSO SEE: Webb Telescope Photographs Baby Stars Burping Out Gases For The First Time

The phenomenon of gravitational lensing. Image: NASA

Gravitational lensing is actually helpful to astronomers as the phenomenon can magnify distant astronomical objects, letting them study objects that would otherwise be too faint or far away.

Scientists are targeting this particular quasar because they can provide clues about the growth of black holes. Observations of the RX J1131-1231 suggest that it has grown via mergers, rather than pulling material in from different directions. This black hole is spinning at half the speed of light, astronomers revealed.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), one of the developers of the telescope, this image was acquired as part of a dark matter study. Observing quasar using Webb is supposed to help decode the nature of dark matter at smaller scales than ever before.

ALSO SEE: Webb Telescope Finds Best Evidence Of Potential Atmosphere Around A ‘Super-Earth’




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