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Space Science

Near-Perfect Einstein Ring Discovered 205

Posted by Zonk
from the i-seeeeee-you dept.
Fraser Cain writes "Universe Today is reporting on the discovery of a nearly perfect Einstein Ring; a gravitational lens of a nearby galaxy working as a natural telescope to focus the light from a more distant galaxy. Gravitational lenses have been seen many times before, but never so complete, with a close lensing galaxy and a distant magnified galaxy."
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Near-Perfect Einstein Ring Discovered

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  • by kkumer (36175) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @06:49AM (#12391430) Homepage
    Well, this is a nice discovery to celebrate the 100 years of the Einstein's miraculous year [wyp2005.org] and 50 years since the guy passed away.
  • Hmmm..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Punboy (737239) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @06:49AM (#12391431) Homepage
    See, now they have a really good reason to get up there and maintain Hubble. I mean seriously, what better reason than to focus hubble on that Einstein ring and get a very upclose view of a distant galaxy
    • See, now they have a really good reason to get up there and maintain Hubble. I mean seriously, what better reason than to focus hubble on that Einstein ring and get a very upclose view of a distant galaxy

      What if we see people dressed in white and dancing amongst the clouds?

      *imagines*

      OMG! The righties will eat us alive! I'd say we blow up Hubble right now!
      • Re:Hmmm..... (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I still say instead of fixing Hubble, we spend the money on a new Hubble. Just like it just doesn't pay to fix a lot of items on Earth, the delivery charges for new parts for satellites are way too high.
        • Oddly enough, this has been part of the discussion on Hubble for quite some time. Apparently there are upgrades to a number of the modules for Hubble that could just as easily be incorporated into a new telescope for a fraction of the cost of another "rescue" mission. Of course that does not solve the issue of needing to maintain the new telescope...

          Bruce

          http://bruceneufeld.com/ [bruceneufeld.com]

          • Of course that does not solve the issue of needing to maintain the new telescope

            Actually, it goes a long way towards that goal. By discovering that parts X, Y, and Y are prone to breaking on the Hubble, those parts can be redesigned for a new model to be much more break resistant and longer lasting.
          • The James Webb telescope is not even on the drawing board yet and will not work in visual wavelengths so any spare HST hardware would only be useful if it were designed for IR. What space telescope are you going to launch by 2008 when the HST will fail? The JWST isn't going up until around 2015 (originally expected to launch in 2011 but now very unlikely). Do we want to go 3-7 years without a good space telescope? I know of no other plans for a telescope to go up using those HST parts. By the time you

    • Re:Hmmm..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2005 @08:07AM (#12391589)

      We're going to have more powerful ground based (and therefore maintainable) telescopes very soon. A more important science project to keep alive is the Voyagers. It has taken decades to get them where they are, and the deviation of their trajectories from the predicted trajectories is very valuable to get an idea of the dark matter present in our own solar system.


      The information available from tracking them, can only be obtained again after more decades of having launched a probe, and it is therefore less easily replaceable.

      • Re:Hmmm..... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @08:53AM (#12391681) Journal
        I was thinking about those the other day. Personally, I have not understood why GWB's henchman are cutting these little ones. I was thinking that they, like hubble, can be replaced by superior sats. In fact, if we finally get the nuclear power going for remote sats, that we can have something past the voyagers in under a decade and with better instruments.
        But then I think about how little the voy. program costs us ( less than a couple million / year total ). Considering that our current deficit is out of sight, I seriously doubt that it will launch the replacements for voys as they cost 1 BILLION each back in the 70s. If we used ion engines, laser transmission, nuke engines, etc., these baby are going to cost 5 billion for a single launch. Not going to happen anytime soon. So best to keep the voys going until they are gone.

        As to the hubble, well, there is an new appointee coming who does understand the science.
        • Personally, I have not understood why GWB's henchman are cutting these little ones.

          So they can buy more bombs.
        • Re:Hmmm..... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gulthek (12570)
          I have not understood why GWB's henchman are cutting these little ones

          FUD. As poor a President that GW is, laying Voyager on his Resolute Desk isn't fair. NASA is trying to use the Voyager program as leverage to reduce their proposed budget cuts.

          Essentially GW's budget includes a NASA funding cut. NASA says that if the budget goes through as it is, then it will be forced to cut funding to maintaining Voyager and other fun science projects.

          As I see it, their hope is that those in Washington will balk at
      • Re:Hmmm..... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by glesga_kiss (596639) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:19PM (#12392475)
        A more important science project to keep alive is the Voyagers. It has taken decades to get them where they are, and the deviation of their trajectories from the predicted trajectories is very valuable to get an idea of the dark matter present in our own solar system.

        If that is the cause of the deviation. The dark matter thing is a wild guess there.

  • Bright boy (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by leonbrooks (8043)
    Havaing a look at Einstein's other interests is a worthwhile exercise too.
  • by expro (597113) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @06:59AM (#12391448)
    It can't be long now that we noticed the lens of the Vorgon sighting device. Are you sure those are galaxies on the other side, and not the twinkling of a charging energy device of a demolition crew?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2005 @06:59AM (#12391450)
    If we can see that universe better, the opposite is true, they can see us better.

    That being said, I want to be the first to welcome our new voyeuristic overlords.
  • Get the paper here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2005 @07:11AM (#12391479)
    The paper [arxiv.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Today in science, experts focus on Einstein's gigantic ring to see what they can find.

    Scientists report their need to explore the depth of the dark matter in Einstein's ring sometimes called Einstein's black hole.

    "In the interests of space science, we need to plunge into the ring and extract the hidden dark matter" said one scientist from NASA's space laboratory.

    "Soon we anticipate manned explorations inside the ring that will explain the enormous amounts of strange gas and dark matter inside. We are ver
  • Einstein's genius (Score:1, Interesting)

    by fallendove (875598)
    With all the miraculous things he did for the world in the realm of science, one wonders what we'd have if he'd devoted his mind to politics, or computers.
    • They had computers in the early 1900's?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They sure did ... they power supply ran off of coffee, food, and oxygen, and they required at least 8 hours of downtime a day for them to function properly [and to prevent overheating]. The results they produced were displayed on dead tree paste that was flattened and gathered together in groups.

        And then mathematicians and physicists would use the results of these computations instead of wasting time computing things like the square root of 3021377 by hand.
      • " They had computers in the early 1900's?"

        I know you meant that as a joke, but maybe we didn't have digital ones, because Einstein didn't focus enough of his life on computers, and instead opted to spend time on courting women, with his gi-normous hair.
    • We'd kiss a lot of this high-tech goodbye without Einstein's contributions to math and physics.

      Just because Einstein was good at math and physics doesn't mean that he would have been good at politics or some other career field.

      • Just because Einstein was good at math and physics doesn't mean that he would have been good at politics or some other career field.

        That's probably why he turned down the presidency of Israel. What he DID recognize was that scientists had a responsibility as citizens to be involved in politics, even if it was at the advisory/cautionary level which he himself chose as a pacifist advocate. Smart guy, that Einstein.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#12392008)
      With all the miraculous things he did for the world in the realm of science, one wonders what we'd have if he'd devoted his mind to politics, or computers.

      Something a lot less worthwhile?

      • Something a lot less worthwhile?

        Meh, that's actually something he was quoted on! "If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber". I think it was refering to his work that essentially gave the world the nuke.

    • With all the miraculous things he did for the world in the realm of science, one wonders what we'd have if he'd devoted his mind to politics, or computers.

      Politics: Not that much. At best, we'd have no nuclear bombs and another dead jew in Germany. (Or, at most, we might have entered WWII earlier, but with no A-bomb we'd still be fighting it...)

      Computers: Diddly. Einstein's genius was seeing the correlation between things, not the minutae of math. He would have sucked at the personnal computer.
    • With all the miraculous things he did for the world in the realm of science, one wonders what we'd have if he'd devoted his mind to politics, or computers.

      Actually, you make a good point. From Einstein's "Why Socialism? [tripod.com]":

      "The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor--not by force, but on the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2005 @07:51AM (#12391554)
    Recently a tiny blackhole was discovered near ./ server room. It causes most of astronomically related comments to vanish into another dimention.

    As a proof, I show you 34 comments in about 90 minutes. There's simply no other reasonable explanation for this phenomenon, but I'm currently using a galaxy telescope to conduct further investigation.
  • "Nearby"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theufo (575732) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @08:42AM (#12391657) Homepage
    It's seven billion lightyears away! The article specifically notes that the great distance makes it even more special.

    And because it's so far away, while still in focus, we can look back further than ever before. It'll be interesting to see some theories about the early universe shattered to pieces.
    • Well, I'll rather expect some more evidence.
    • Yeah, but when the universe is of infinite length, width, depth and time, everything seems nearby.
    • Doesn't looking back in time, in the respect of astronomy, infer a direct linear, or near linear view toward the center of the big bang? What I mean is, if you are looking orthoganaly at light eminating from a point not coming directly at you, you are not seeing as far back as you might if the light was coming directly toward you.

      Can anyone explain this?
  • by icepick72 (834363) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @09:17AM (#12391723)
    with a close lensing galaxy and a distant magnified galaxy.

    It's like having our own super-weapon -- we can shine our sun through it and fry their planets.

  • Visible? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @09:23AM (#12391742) Journal
    FTFA:

    According to the paper, the ring inscribes a "C-shaped" circle of 270 degrees in near-complete circumference with an apparent radius of slightly more than 1 3/4 arc seconds - roughly the size of a star's "virtual" image seen at high power through a small amateur telescope.

    So would this thing be visible with a small amateur telescope, or is it too dim? Does it even emit in the visible spectrum?
    • Re:Visible? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2005 @09:49AM (#12391825)
      It's not visible to an amateur scope; it's magnitude 22.2, and I don't think the largest amateur scopes can get past 17 or so. That translates to about 100 times too dim to be seen by them. The value I quoted is the R_c band, which is visible (around 650 nm), if I'm reading the paper correctly. You can read all this yourself in the paper [arxiv.org]; see the bottom of section 1 on page 2, and Figure 2.
    • To dissolve it as a ring, you would need about 1" resolution (else you couldnt see the dimming in the centre).
      This is possible through the earth athmosphere without adaptive optics (barely), but you would need at least a 25cm mirror because of the defraction limit.
      And even with it it should be to dim to be visible with an integration time thats possible with normal equipment (LN2 cooled CCDS,ect).
      This thing may be a galaxy with 10^12 L_sol, but it has a z>3, so its really damn far away...
  • 7 days? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dioscaido (541037) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @09:28AM (#12391752)
    Crap, now I have to show the picture on the site to someone else, otherwise I'll be visited by Einstein's ghost.
  • by StupendousMan (69768) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @09:37AM (#12391779) Homepage

    The summary states incorrectly:

    Gravitational lenses have been seen many times before, but never so complete ...

    Way back in 1989, radio astronomers found a gravitational lens near the galaxy MG1643+1346 which creates two images, one of which is a nearly complete circular ring. Take a look at this radio image from Langston et al., AJ 97, 1283 (1989):

    Click to see radio image of lensed quasar. [rit.edu]

    So, this newest system is a pretty good lens, but not the "most complete" one yet found.

    By the way, if you want to understand how gravitational lensing works, you can read some lectures I wrote for an introductory astronomy class:

    • Er.
      The paper especially states that its the best sample yet that is
      a) visible in the optical
      b) having a "strong" lense
    • So, my question is (and I post it as a reply because you might know the answer):

      Does the lense work in both directions? That is, can whatever is on the other side "see" earth in its early moments?
      • Earth has only existed for 4.5 billion years. The far side object is over twice that old so the short answer is no.

        Also, just because the near and far objects appear to be lined up with our galaxy, it doesn't mean that our galaxy and the near object were in line with the far object 13 billion years ago. You must shed the notion of light traveling instainiously and in straight lines. The source object is nowhere near where it was then, and there is no such thing as "now".

        --
        This space for rent. Inquire
  • I thought inflation preceeded all star formation, so how can the source be a pre inflationary epoch galaxy ?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Inflation occured in the 1970's and 80's as a result of rising gas prices - the light from the source galaxy emanated during the expansionary - not the inflationary phase of the Universe 11 billion (and 4 billion years) before "inflation".

      We may now be experiencing a new inflationary era as a result of expansionary economic policies - or am I crossing up my disciplines here???
  • by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:28AM (#12391964) Homepage Journal
    I was wondering if there might be a way to improve resolution of image by scanning across the lens periodically as our planet and solar system move in spacetime, similarly to the way you can get higher resolution by composing many frames of video into a single high resolution (or at least high contrast) print.

    Well that seems to be relatively obvious and maybe insignificant compared to what can be done just by improving the receiving setup.

    So I thought, if we increase our telescope resolution to the point where we can get a very high resolution image of the 11 bn ly galaxy, and find a perfect Einstein ring in that, might it not be then possible to find an even farther (say 20 bn ly galaxy) that might by fabulous luck be lined up with it, and thereby (luck again) piggy back all the way up to the end of visible space?

    So question 1) If we had a 1 AU wide telescope and enough Einstein rings, just how far do you think we could really see?

    This sounds similar to the idea of pointing a big telescope at the edge of a black hole to view the entire universe (since light can orbit many times before leaving, at least according to a neat story called the Planck Dive). So 2) assuming the black holes or something close enough to them really exist in our galaxy, what could such a large telescope reveal by focusing on the edge of such a black hole, and 3) is there any way possible to use one possibly in conjunction with piggy backed Einstein rings to see light beyond what is the "visible universe" i.e. the point at which expanding space has expanded beyond our light cone.

    It would seem that an image that had been captured by a black hole before much expansion had occurred could conceivably be accessible now (if black holes truly can be "read" that way not just in fiction) even though the space being imaged has long expanded far beyond the edge of the visible universe. IANA astronomer but interested in where fact and fiction separate and neat ways to use computer graphic techniques and telescopes. Can anybody experienced answer some of these questions?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So question 1) If we had a 1 AU wide telescope and enough Einstein rings, just how far do you think we could really see?

      I assume you're talking about floating a set of telescopes at the stable lagrange points in Earth's orbit, aye?

      If we could do that, there's not really anything other than the cost that would prevent us from floating space telescopes in the L points of other planets in our system, too. Mars and Venus, and something further out like Jupiter would give us an extremely sensitive telescope
  • by baadger (764884) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:24AM (#12392200)
    Would this ring, or others like it, work in two directions? i.e. diverging electromagnetic radiation sourcing from here across the space we see 'through' the lens?

    Just curious.
  • my wife has been bugging me to buy her one of these for years...
  • Because of Einstein's insight into the conversion of mass and energy, we now understand how distant Sun's illuminate the cosmos

    Is this a print publication? Because the editor must be an illiterate moron [angryflower.com]..

    Also, the capitalized 'Sun' refers to the star at the center of our solar system. Stars in general may be referred to as 'suns'.
  • Can we use this ring lens to search for a rotating black hole, through which to study the future history of the universe [princeton.edu]?

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