The researchers, using the Hubble Space Telescope, used the space zoom lens to capture the unprecedented fourfold image of an ancient supernova.
Between the supernova and the Hubble International Space Telescope lies a massive star cluster of galaxies, whose gravity bends the path of traveling photons. The existence of the so-called “gravitational lenses” was predicted 100 years ago by the physicist Albert Einstein. The first cosmic lens was discovered in 1979.
Original photo of Hubble. Click image to enlarge
“Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity says that massive objects bend space and time. Light passing near a massive object deviates from its original path,” said astronomer Jennifer Lotz from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Astronomer Patrick Kelly and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley reported an ancient supernova this week that took four different paths to light, after deflecting around an intermediate elliptical galaxy to reach the Hubble telescope. This phenomenon is known as the cross of Einstein.
"We saw a supernova four times and measured the time delays between its arrival in various images. So we want to know something about the supernova and the star from which it was formed," Kelly said in a statement.
A study published in the journal Science this week.