Lord of the Rings: Mysterious galaxy photographed deep in space by ALMA telescope

Lord of the Rings: Mysterious galaxy photographed deep in space by ALMA telescope

Using something known as "gravitational lensing," the ALMA telescope in Chile was able to capture amazing images of a far-off galaxy.

A massive telescope sitting in the Chilean desert has capture some stunning images of a far, far away galaxy in the shape of a ring, thanks to an Einsteinian principle known as “gravitational lensing.”

Astronomers used the Atacma Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope to peer deep into space, and it was able to spot this galaxy thanks to gravitational lensing, which is when light is bent around a cluster of galaxies between us and that distant galaxy, allowing us to see far deeper into space than we otherwise would,¬†according to a Business Standard report. It also explains the ring-like shape of the galaxy, making it look like something out of a Tolkein novel — it’s not actually ring shaped, that’s just how it appears to us due to the distortion of the galaxy cluster between us and it.

The observations are even more detailed than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, despite the fact that the latter enjoys views of space unobstructed by our atmosphere. However, thanks to the clear night sky offered by the Chile desert and its incredibly sensitive instruments, the ALMA telescope was able to capture the image. The study accompanying the image was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Scientists used ALMA’s Long Baseline Campaign to reconstruct the image, taking advantage of the massive collecting area the telescope offers. Thanks to spectral information from ALMA, they were able to measure both the mass and the rotation of the galaxy. The galaxy appears to have gas that is unstable and is collapsing into itself, which is likely to result in more star formation.

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