NASA explains ‘gravitational lensing’ in Galaxy LRG-3-817 image

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NASA recently shared an amazing picture of the galaxy LRG-3-817, also known as SDSS J090122.37+181432.3. The effects of ‘gravitational lensing’ distorted  the image.

NASA’s Hubble shared the central galaxy cluster in an Instagram post. Due to the strong gravitational forces, the light-emitting galaxy appeared hazy with a long arc to the left bent and was also stretched.

“In this #HubbleFriday image, the galaxy LRG-3-817 appears as a long arc just to the left of the central galaxy cluster,” NASA’s Hubble informed in the caption.

“It looks distorted because of an effect called gravitational lensing, which happens when a huge collection of matter (like the galaxy cluster pictured here) sits between Earth and a distant source of light,” it added.

The distant galaxies look largely distorted, stretched or magnified due to the gravitational lensing, which also makes it difficult to measure as galaxies clustered in compact structure bends the light enormously.
It appears like looking at the celestial objects using a giant magnifying glass.

“When taken to the extreme, gravity can create some intriguing visual effects that Hubble’s is well suited to observing. Einstein’s general theory of relativity describes how mass concentrations distort the space around them,” NASA described in a release.

NASA said that a gravitational lens occurs when a huge amount of matter creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from galaxies that behind it but remain in the same line of sight.

NASA says the gravitational lensing helps the scientists in studying the minute details of early galaxies that are out of sight of the current technology and telescopes.

“Smaller objects, like individual stars, can also act as gravitational lenses when they pass in front of more distant stars,” NASA explained.
NASA said the intense gravity of the closer object, a phenomenon known as gravitational microlensing, might make the distant stars in the cluster galaxies appear brighter or dimmer at places.

“These lensed images also act as probes of the matter distribution in the galaxy cluster,” the agency said.