The Hubble Space Telescope captured an image that stunned scientists. The photograph shows an “Einstein ring”, a phenomenon that allows one to zoom into the depths of the universe and demonstrates the workings of the gravitational lens effect, provided for in the theory of relativity.
The gravitational lens is a phenomenon in which light from space is distorted enough to allow spacetime to become “visible”.
In the image, two galaxies, about 3.4 billion light-years from Earth, distort and deflect light from an even more distant galaxy behind them.
This pattern, predicted by German physicist Albert Einstein in 1915 and known as the gravitational lens, shows six points of light — two clustered in the center and four lining up around a distorted light ring.
However, these bright dots represent not six galaxies, but three – two in the center of the ring and a third, a distant quasar whose light has bent to the point where it forms four bright points.
super massive black holes
Quasars are galaxies with supermassive black holes at their cores, which swallow huge amounts of matter and emit so much radiation that they are about a trillion times brighter than the brightest stars.
“The light from the quasar has been curved around the pair of galaxies because of its enormous mass, giving the incredible appearance that the pair of galaxies is surrounded by four quasars. However, in reality, there is only one, which is far beyond, behind them,” explained in a statement the European Space Agency (ESA).
Einstein’s rings act to amplify the light they bend, rebuilding the patches of light into their original, pre-curved shapes, helping scientists visualize objects that would otherwise be too dark to be seen on their own, such as black holes or wandering exoplanets.