The James Webb Space Telescope has photographed an Einstein ring around a galaxy, which is located around 12 billion light-years away from Earth.
More images from the James Webb Space Telescope are surfacing, and this time, it features an almost perfect ‘Einstein ring’. Released by an astronomy enthusiast on Reddit, the image was taken using Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and features the galaxy JO418 (formally known as SPT-S J041839-4751.8) which lies around 12 billion light-years away from Earth.
According to NASA, an Einstein ring forms when light from a distant galaxy passes through warped space-time surrounding another galaxy aligned between the distant light source and the observer (Webb telescope in this case). In simple terms, the blue light is from the galaxy on the front and the ring around it is the light emerging from the galaxy behind it due to the warped space.
A report by Science Alert revealed that an anonymous user by the username “Spaceguy44” posted the image after processing Webb’s publicly available MIRI data.
“We wouldn’t be able to see J0418 if it weren’t for the light-bending properties of gravity,” the user’s Reddit post read. “Without the lensing effect, the galaxy would probably look like most distant galaxies: a small blob of light.”
Notably, this picture again proves Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which was published in 1912, and presented the theory that gravity warps the fabric of space around it which would cause the light to curve accordingly.
Interestingly, this phenomenon has also birthed the concept of gravitational lensing which is the natural magnification of an object in the background due to the strong gravitational warping by the object in the foreground. Meanwhile, this is not the first time an Einstein ring was spotted as Hubble recently photographed the same phenomenon.