Stunning images from Hubble show us how James Webb will use galaxies to bend light. Read more

Credit image: NASA
Credit image: NASA

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 28 June 2022, at 10:43 am Los Angeles time

The new spectacular images from Hubble reveal more details about how the new James Webb Space Telescope will decipher the Universe using its wonders.

The Hubble Telescope captured Abell 1351, a group of about 100 galaxies that are connected by gravity.

The group is so massive that the gravitational force it causes distorts in space-time.

As expected from the principles of physics, light no longer follows a straight path, instead, it surrounds the cluster, which can be seen in the curved stripes of light in images captured by Hubble.

In any case, light is not always from galaxies inside the cluster, but from more distant galaxies, more than 4 billion light-years from Earth.

Due to the space-time curve, light does the same thing and it curves instead of reaching a straight line towards us.

But what is Webb involved in here?

The phenomenon that happens in space with light is the same as when it passes through a curved lens; the lens distorts but magnifies the light.

When this phenomenon occurs in space due to the space-time curve, scientists call the phenomenon gravitational lenses. They can sometimes cause image duplication or even light rings (also known as Einstein rings) around a lens object.

James Webb will use gravitational lenses to be able to see as far as possible in the Universe, to the oldest galaxies.

But the gravitational lens for Webb will not be the new photographed cluster, but another named Abell 2744 also discovered by the Hubble telescope.

Tommaso Treu, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the team will focus Webb on this cluster to see galaxies even 13.3 billion light-years away, which is just near the beginning of the universe and the first galaxies.

"The fact that we know it so well means that we can calculate very precisely the properties of the lens. Using our models, we can compute very accurately how the background images have been distorted," Treu said in a statement. "Then we can invert that to figure out the intrinsic properties of the objects as they would look without the lens in front."

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