Hubble Hunts Down Spacetime-Bending Galaxies
The Hubble Space Telescope is taking advantage of a naturally occurring lens in space to extend its range even more. Scientists report this week that Hubble has found several bright quasars — galaxies that are home to supermassive black holes — which are strategically positioned so that that are warping the light from even more distant galaxies.
The so-called gravitational lenses happen because space is like a fabric that gets wrapped around celestial bodies. The effects can be seen in light rays that become amplified and distorted as they pass through areas of space scrunched by the hands of gravity. Astronomers are making a catalog of these gravitational lenses, in hopes of learning more about the galaxies that host the quasars since the amount of distortion in the lens can be used to estimate a galaxy’s mass.