Gravitational lensing

  • If you’ve seen the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope this week, you might have heard the term “gravitational lensing” being thrown around. But what does it mean exactly? And how can it help this new telescope make discoveries?
  • Astronomers believe they’ve detected the first “rogue” black hole, roaming the galaxy alone. The object made itself known when it passed in front of a background star, bending the light with its extreme gravity.
  • While almost every planet ever found orbits a star, there are some loners that roam the cosmos entirely on their own. Now astronomers have spotted the smallest of these “rogue planets” ever discovered, which is only the size of Earth or smaller.
  • Large clouds of dark matter have been indirectly detected before, but it should also form smaller clumps. Now Hubble observations have detected evidence of these small clumps for the first time, lending weight to a prevailing dark matter hypothesis.
  • The Sun is a mere 10-watt bulb compared to quasars, extremely luminous galactic cores that shine so intensely thanks to their ravenous hunger for nearby material. Now, astronomers have detected the brightest quasar ever found, shining with the light of almost 600 trillion Suns.
  • Thanks to a rare cosmic alignment, astronomers have been able to view the most distant individual normal star ever observed. Located some 9 billion light years from Earth, the star was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope thanks to gravitational lensing amplifying the star’s feeble glow​.
  • As of January 2018, well over 3,500 exoplanets have been confirmed in the Milky Way, and it was basically a given that planets were pretty common across the universe. Now astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma (OU) have confirmed the first detection of extragalactic exoplanets.
  • Science
    Gravity from huge objects like stars can curve spacetime, bending light from its straight path. This can alter how we see distant stars through what's called gravitational lensing, and now astronomers have seen it in action, directly observing a star bend the light of another, more distant star.
  • Astronomers have observed a new set of galaxies for the very first time that are as much as 10 times as luminous as previous findings. The galaxies aren't quite all they seem, however, with their notable appearance a result, at least in part, of a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.​
  • The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released the first results of an ambitious southern sky survey that aims to shed light on the most abundant and elusive substance in the Universe – dark matter. Though promising, the results represent just seven percent of the entire project.
  • ESA astronomers have turned the Fermi, Swift and Integral telescopes towards a distant black hole, using an opportune gravitational lens to make observations that would otherwise have been impossible. The findings represent the first time that gamma rays have been observed using a cosmic lens.
  • New studies by astronomers are slowly throwing some light on dark matter, the invisible and mysterious stuff that scientists believe makes up much of the universe. For the first time, astronomers believe they've observed the interactions of dark matter via a factor other than the force of gravity.
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