The term ‘Einstein Ring’ doesn’t refer to a piece of jewelry that the renowned physicist wore on his finger. It’s the name of a space object that’s also known as Einstein–Chwolson ring or Chwolson ring, and it consists of light from a star or galaxy passing by a massive object on the way to Earth. Gravitational lensing causes the light to divert and look as if it’s coming from different places.
Perhaps we all know by now that NASA’s next-generation James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been very active lately, starting from the first full-color images of the Cosmos that it released back in mid-July.
Einstein Ring was spotted by JWST from 12 billion light-years away
James Webb managed to capture a perfect Einstein Ring, the SPT-S J041839-4751.8 galaxy that’s located roughly 12 billion light-years away from Earth. Thanks to astronomy graduation student Spaceguy44, we can see an image of the space object:
Here's my colorization of the previously spotted Einstein Ring Galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8 with #JWST's MIRI
— Spaceguy44 🌌 (@spaceguy44) August 23, 2022
If it weren’t for the Einstein Ring effect, we wouldn’t be able to see the galaxy at all, according to the same student.
The distance is indeed staggering, and we can also perceive such quests from James Webb as true time travels. All physicists agree that the farther you look in space using powerful telescopes, the more you look back in time. Therefore, there is a chance that the SPT-S J041839-4751.8 galaxy doesn’t exist anymore in the present. We even get the same effect, although at a much lower scale, in the case of our beloved Sun. The light emitted by it needs about 8 minutes to reach Earth. This is all because even the speed of light is limited, and it can therefore need some time for it to go from one point in space to another, depending on the distance.
Less than a week ago, we spoke about other beautiful images snapped by the James Webb Space Telescope of the planet Jupiter and its huge auroras. In other words, Webb is only “warming up,” as it will keep impressing us all much more in the near future.