Astronomers using the Hubble NASA / ESA Space Telescope have captured a striking photograph of GAL-CLUS-022058-38303, the largest and one of the most complete Einstein rings known in the Universe.
GAL-CLUS-022058-38303, located in the southern constellation of Fornax, has an extreme diameter – about 20 arcseconds.
Nicknamed the Fused Ring, which alludes to its appearance and host constellation, this spectacular object is the result of gravitational lensing of a first elliptical galaxy 4 billion light-years away.
The ring shows two extremely distant galaxies (possibly interacting), resulting in double arcs with striking color differences.
“First theorized by Einstein in his general theory of relativity, the unusual shape of this object can be explained by a process called gravitational lensing, which causes light to shine from afar to bend and be drawn by the gravity of an object between its source and the observer.” said Hubble astronomers.
“In this case the light from the background galaxy has been distorted into the curve we see by the gravity of the galactic cluster sitting in front of it.”
“The almost exact alignment of the background galaxy with the central elliptical galaxy of the cluster, seen in the middle of this image, distorted and enlarged the image of the background galaxy around itself into an almost perfect ring.”
“The gravity of other galaxies in the cluster will soon cause further distortions.”
“Such objects are the ideal laboratory for exploring galaxies that are too weak and distant to be seen otherwise,” they concluded.