Webb snapped near-perfect Einstein’s ring 12 billion light-years away: ScienceAlert

Since the release of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope in July, our feeds have been flooded with stunning photos from space – from incredibly detailed images from Jupiter to the most distant known star.

Now Webb has done it again, this time capturing a nearly perfect Einstein ring of about 12 billion light years away. And we can’t stop watching.

You can see the colorized image, which was shared by a grad student in astronomy Spaceguy44 on Redditbelow.

Like Spaceguy44 explains on Redditan Einstein ring occurs when a distant galaxy has been enlarged and enveloped in a near perfect ring by a massive galaxy in front of it.

The galaxy in question is called SPT-S J041839-4751.8 and it’s a huge 12 billion light years away.

Here is a more distant view, also covered by Spaceguy44:

Galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8. (JWST/MAST; Spaceguy44/Reddit)

According to Spaceguy44, we couldn’t see this galaxy at all without Einstein’s ring.

And the presence of Einstein’s rings, in addition to being beautiful, allows us to study these otherwise nearly impossible-to-see galaxies.

This process is known as gravitational lensing, and it’s an effect predicted by Einstein – hence the name.

The effect only occurs when the distant galaxy, the nearest magnifying galaxy, and the observer (in this case, the Webb Space Telescope) align.

If you want to try it for yourself, Spaceguy44 said that the stem and base of a wine glass create a similar effect. Try doing this with a page from a book and see the word zoomed in.

Although it is rare to see Einstein rings, it is not unheard of. Hubble has previously captured images of spectacular Einstein rings.

This isn’t even the first time Webb has captured Einstein’s ring from SPT-S J041839-4751.8.

The Space Telescope’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) captured the same region in August, and Spaceguy44 colorized it and then posted it too.

But the image, below, was not so clear.

Yellow ring in space.
Near infrared image of Einstein’s ring. (JWST/MAST; Spaceguy44/Reddit)

In the last image, the data was captured by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument Camera (MIRI), and downloaded from MAST Portal.

The image uses three different filters. Red is the F1000W filter, which captures wavelengths of light at 10 µm. Green is the F770W filter, for 7.7 µm wavelengths. Blue is the F560W filter which captures 5.6 µm wavelengths.

The images were then aligned and colorized by Spaceguy44 using astropiaand further processing was done in GIMP.

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