Using Albert Einstein’s gravitational lensing theory, scientists have discovered a galaxy at about 10,000 million light years away but thousand times brighter than the nearest Milky Way.
Anastasio Diaz-Sanches from Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) in Spain used gravitational lensing phenomenon found by Einstein to magnify the apparent image of the original object.
“Thanks to the gravitational lens” explained Sánchez, “produced by a cluster of galaxies between ourselves and the source, which acts as if it was a telescope, the galaxy appears 11 times bigger and brighter than it really is.” It appears as several images on an arc centred on the densest part of the cluster, known as ‘Einstein Ring’.
To measure it they used the Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in Garafía, La Palma. The advantage of this type of amplification is that it does not distort the spectral properties of the light, enabling the study of very distant objects as if they were much nearer.
The galaxy is forming stars at a rate of 1,000 solar masses per year, compared to the Milky Way which is forming stars at a rate of some twice a solar mass per year. Susana Iglesias-Groth, co-author of the research said, “This type of objects harbour the most powerful star forming regions known in the universe. The next step will be to study their molecular content”.
The research findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The fact that the galaxy is so bright, its light is gravitationally amplifed, and has multiple images allows us to look into its internal properties, which would otherwise not be possible with such distant galaxies.
“In the future we will be able to make more detailed studies of its star formation using interferometers such ast the Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA/IRAM),in France, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), in Chile,” said IAC researcher Helmut Dannerbauer, who is another contributor to the paper.