A distant galaxy has been seen curving around a giant star, in what NASA describes as a “molten ring,” known as the Einstein ring. The space agency described the object in question as “a very rare phenomenon”. The Hubble Space Telescope was able to capture the object with the attractive name GAL-CLUS-022058s.
According to NASA, the image shows a distant galaxy curving around a cluster galaxy.
It is caused by a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
If an object in space was massive enough, such as the Sun, its gravitational field would be so intense that its mass could distort the fabric of space – space-time – and cause light to bend.
It works in a similar way to a magnifying glass, for example, that bends light through the lens, making the object appear closer.
Gravitational lens theory was first developed by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity.
Because of its fiery appearance, NASA called this shape the “Molten Ring”.
The space agency said: “In this case, the light from the background of the galaxy has been distorted to the curve that we see by the gravity of the galaxy cluster sitting in front of it.
“ The near-fine alignment of the background galaxy with the central elliptical cluster of the cluster, seen in the center of this image, distorted the image of the background galaxy and amplified it into a nearly perfect ring.
Read more: NASA News: Hubble captures the ‘unprecedented fading’ of the Stingray Nebula
JWST is so powerful that it can offer insight into the early universe, just 0.3 billion years from the Big Bang to the time visible light itself began to form.
JWST will also play a major role in the search for extraterrestrials.
This is because the telescope has the ability to scan thousands of planets for alien life by looking for vital fingerprints in a planet’s atmosphere.
NASA said: “The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) is an infrared orbiting observatory that would complement and expand the Hubble Space Telescope discoveries, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity.
“Longer wavelengths allow Webb to look much closer to the start of time and look for the unobservable formation of the first galaxies, as well as search inside the dust clouds where stars and planetary systems form today.”