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Hubble Finds Double Einstein Ring

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the billions-and-billions dept.

Space 168

Einstein Duble brings us news that astronomers using the Hubble Telescope have discovered an extremely rare double Einstein Ring. Occasionally, galaxies or other bright objects are located in such a way that they are behind another galaxy when viewed from Earth. When light from the further galaxy passes a sufficiently massive closer galaxy, the path of the light is bent inward from all sides, creating a "ring" effect. In this case, not one, but two galaxies are directly behind the foreground galaxy, so the gravitational lens produces two distinct rings. Quoting Presscue: "The distribution of dark matter in the foreground galaxies that is warping space to create the gravitational lens can be precisely mapped. In addition, the geometry of the two Einstein rings allowed the team to measure the mass of the middle galaxy precisely to be a value of 1 billion solar masses. The team reports that this is the first measurement of the mass of a dwarf galaxy at cosmological distance (redshift of z=0.6)."

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168 comments

Also found (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21993614)

was that Kirk was flying around it picking up Klingons!!

Re:Also found (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21993654)

Lies! Your mother has a smooth forehead!

Re:Also found (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995552)

Mod back up, that was funny you cunts

Hmmm, double rings? (-1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993638)

Double the FSB, double the BSB, Whatever the kilo-his or the kilo-hers

Whatever your persuasion, that means double-the-pleasure, or double-the-trouble...

Do the Hubble thing, butt try not to hobble...

(Now, if only they Hubble can find the Wrigley's Pleasure Planet, mmm double the taste...)

Re:Hmmm, double rings? (-1, Troll)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993982)

100% overrated -2?

Well, double-dumb-ass on YOU, moderator. (You are allowing logic to override your ability to display recognition of a sense of humour...)

Re:Hmmm, double rings? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994364)

Wow, you really pissed off some idiot who knows how to hold a grudge. Believe me, it happens. A post of mine once got modded overrated about two days before the story got archived.

Yay Hubble (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993648)

Good thing NASA and others want to sh*tcan the thing. Oh wait, no its not. Lets hope that the upgrade for it mentioned a few days ago goes smoothly, so we can see more cool stuff like this.

Wheres my flying car though?

Re:Yay Hubble (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993702)

"Wheres my flying car though?"

They're called 'airplanes' and we even have a place to park them called 'airports'

Re:Yay Hubble (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994088)

That upgrade is on hold. The problems that knocked the latest Atlantis mission back into February have jacked up the schedule. So it was planned for August but now it will be later [reuters.com]. I would think that with eol for the shuttle and hubble both rapidly approaching - any more problems or serious delays and it could get knocked from on hold to canceled.

Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (5, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993650)

This is a prime example of the kind of useful knowledge that can be gained with projects like Hubble.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (5, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993708)

Proving Einstein's theory was always been about getting a little behind as it were. The solar eclipse of May 29,1919 was the first confirmation of this. And, this new discovery is much like the 191 observation only writ large, one might say glactic large.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (5, Insightful)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993856)

Given that they are only vastly different scales, it is important - there is still uncertainty as to how gravity acts on extremely large galactic scales.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995490)

Extremely large scales is right. I guffawed when I read "precisely one billion solar masses".. like there are exactly a billion stars that mass precisely 1 solar mass each, or 500 million at .500000 solar masses each..

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994012)

If you're truly Libertarian, Hubble is exactly the sort of thing you'd be against having the government fund.

C'mon, homefry. Walk the walk if you're gonna talk the talk.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (5, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994202)

If you're truly Libertarian, Hubble is exactly the sort of thing you'd be against having the government fund.

C'mon, homefry. Walk the walk if you're gonna talk the talk.


Some Libertarians might be against funding things like Hubble. I personally am more concerned with personal freedom, and a balanced budget. Private industry isn't going to do certain things, Hubble is a prime example. The last thing this country needs to do is cut scientific research.

I agree, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994486)

I've seen plenty of Libertarians that don't want the government to fund much of anything, ever, because "taxation is theft" or something like that.

I'm glad to see that there are at least a few veins of common sense among the Libertarians, though, because the extreme sort are the most noisy.

Re:I agree, but... (-1, Flamebait)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994532)

and i've seen republicans who bomb abortion clinics and shoot doctors through the head...

Re:I agree, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995822)

You saw them do it? I hope you called the police...

Re:I agree, but... (3, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994614)

the extreme sort are the most noisy
The same could be said of those of any persuasion......(political, religious, etc.)

Layne

Re:I agree, but... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994772)

Libertarians run the gamut of the libertarian spectrum, just as Dems and GOP'ers run the gamut of the so-called liberal and conservative spectrums.

Re:I agree, but... (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995644)

Taxation is theft. It is true that it isn't exactly optional but the benefits are enormous. Just look at the advances that came from tax-funded military and scientific projects that make our lives better.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (-1, Offtopic)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994648)

Some Libertarians might be against funding things like Hubble. I personally am more concerned with personal freedom, and a balanced budget

So how exactly are you a Libertarian, then?

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (2, Interesting)

porpnorber (851345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996814)

Personal freedom, sound economic policy, measured intervention in things that won't look after themselves - isn't this what we used to call 'Liberalism'? All the Libertarians I have encountered labour under the delusion that they are universal experts and that nobody but them (least of all people with actual domain-specific training!) should be doing any resource allocation. They don't want to fund street repairs - in case someone else uses tarmac they helped pay for - let alone science. Certainly a total failure to grasp the notions of insurance and natural monopoly is de rigeur. So ... since you aren't a selfish fool, why do you label yourself this way? Is there some benefit?

I'm sorry, I know I sound rude, but otherwise intelligent Libertarians are an endless source of frustration in my life.

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997110)

> Private industry isn't going to do certain things, Hubble is a prime example.
Let me summarise your argument:

People are unable to create organisations that provide them with certain services. Therefore, people create organisations that provide them with certain services.

Am I the only one having trouble with an argument like that?

Mod As Offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994634)

In the same way that every Republican/Democrat/ is exactly the same and agree 100% on everything? Not to mention there's a difference between a libertarian and Libertarian.

Mod this whole subthread as offtopic.

Re:Mod As Offtopic (Hubble funding politics) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994940)

there's a difference between a libertarian and Libertarian.

Hey, gravity-lensing made one of the L's bigger
   

Re:Who said Hubble was a waste of money? (4, Insightful)

hyfe (641811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994938)

If you're truly Libertarian, Hubble is exactly the sort of thing you'd be against having the government fund.
Being against spending money on a project doesn't mean you're not allowed to acknowledge its positive sides.

Seriously, I hate this sort of thing. Any proposal has good and bad sides. When you're making a decision you count them and weigh them against eachother. Then you make a decision. Obviously, he values 'really free market' really highly, but that doesn't mean he's not allowed to acknowledge the cases when there are more cons to his approach than usual.

Acknowledging arguments and still making a decision is a sign of intelligence. Trying to force somebody else to make false choices, or attributing false opinions to them is stupid.. and way too bloody common.

Which part of the knowledge is useful? (2, Interesting)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995898)

Seriously, I'm not being hostile with this question. Is your life better for knowing the precise mass of a galaxy which no human will ever visit? I could go out and mass a stone in my back yard rather precisely with a calibrated instrument right now -- that would advance The Sum Of Human Knowledge, insofar as nobody had ever determined the approximate mass of that particular rock before -- but is that knowledge *useful*?

WoW (0)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993666)

A double Einstein ring AND it has a red-shift of z=0.6?

If it has a fire magic enchantment, that sucker is going to go for serious bucks on eBay.

Re:WoW (-1, Troll)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993756)

I sat here for ten minutes and couldn't work out a way to make a butt joke out of your comment. But I guess if einstein's ring had a red shift, it could be construed that his ring had some how split into two, which, painful as it must be, would also result in some red shift.

Re:WoW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995652)

Might want to go for another ten minutes, there, Gallagher.

Bigamy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21993678)

Woulden't that be bigamy?

And to them, we are the ring (4, Interesting)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993720)

One of the cool implications becomes clear if you realize this means our galaxy is the 4th galaxy in a line with these three. To someone standing on a planet in that backmost galaxy, 11B Ly away:
    * The one that's the "foreground galaxy" to us would be the inner ring.
    * The one that's the "first ring" to us would be the foreground galaxy for them and ...
    * The Milky Way would appear as the outer ring!

Re:And to them, we are the ring (4, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993796)

One of the cool implications becomes clear if you realize this means our galaxy is the 4th galaxy in a line with these three. To someone standing on a planet in that backmost galaxy, 11B Ly away:

        * The one that's the "foreground galaxy" to us would be the inner ring.

        * The one that's the "first ring" to us would be the foreground galaxy for them and ...

        * The Milky Way would appear as the outer ring!


Actually, that's not the case. I'll give you a hint. The reason is because of something the guy these rings are named after, figured out. These galaxies aren't aligned. They just look that way from our perspective. From the other direction, it's extremely unlikely these 4 galaxies ever aligned, as odd as that sounds.

Re:And to them, we are the ring (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993876)

Indeed, there aren't aligned. Which won't defer an idiot astrologer to make some prediction over the event of course.

Re:And to them, we are the ring (1, Insightful)

Rothron the Wise (171030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993890)

If the galaxies look aligned from our perspective, they will look aligned from theirs. The inverse path
of the light will be exactly the same since the path is dictated by the perturbation of spacetime.

You forgot about time (5, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993956)

These things line up in space-time as follows: Galaxy 1 is on the line 11 billion years ago, galaxy 2 is on the line 6 billion years ago, galaxy 3 is on the line 3 billion years ago, and the Milky Way is on the line right now.

This does not mean that the reverse is true. It does not mean that there is a line that the Milky Way was on 11 billion years ago, and galaxy 3 was on 8 billion years ago, and galaxy 2 was on 5 billion years ago, and galaxy 3 is on now. Why not? Because galaxies move.

Still, even if not technically correct, it was a really awesome thought by the OP...

You forgot about mass too (5, Informative)

Loki P (1170771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994496)

And the other problem is the masses of all the galaxies are different. The dwarf galaxy wouldn't act as a lens for them in the same way that the massive galaxy does for us.

Re:You forgot about mass too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997518)

It doesn't need to. As long as its lensing effect is strong enough to produce an image of the nearest galaxy behind it (instead of the foreground galaxy just obscuring it), it would also produce a ring of the galaxy further away. (if this were not prevented by all the galaxies moving about in the last 11 billion years)

Re:You forgot about time (0)

countach (534280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994548)

True. But if they are moving at the same speed there seems a good chance they would be lined up the other way. However not on the same line. It would be a line at the reverse angle to the hypothetical centre of the big bang.

Re:You forgot about time (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995700)

"It would be a line at the reverse angle to the hypothetical centre of the big bang."

We are at "hypothetical centre of the big bang", as is everything else.

Re:You forgot about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994746)

Of course, there is the potential that sometime in the future an observer (say, a galaxy) will pass along the line of light going past us at the right time and observe the milky way as the lens.
An exciting thought for people that get excited at the thought of someone looking right up our ring.
And, is there a Godwin rule for goatse?

Re:You forgot about time (1)

gl12 (1164635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994748)

Does this means that, if a galaxy is at the right place, in a few billion years op will be right?

Re:You forgot about time (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994994)

These things line up in space-time as follows: .... This does not mean that the reverse is true. It does not mean that there is a line that the Milky Way was on 11 billion years ago, and galaxy 3 was on 8 billion years ago, and galaxy 2 was on 5 billion years ago, and galaxy 3 is on now. Why not? Because galaxies move.

The communications delay is gonna make online gaming with those guys a bit cumbersome.
       

Re:And to them, we are the ring (1)

aquaepulse (990849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993966)

No, they won't looked aligned.

You're forgetting that light travels at a finite speed.

Galaxy 1 emitted light 11 bya which interacted with galaxy 2, 3 and now shines on Earth.

There is no "reverse path" for light from the Milky to take.

Re:And to them, we are the ring (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995364)

Re:And to them, we are the ring (Score:0, Troll)

If the galaxies look aligned from our perspective, they will look aligned from theirs. The inverse path
of the light will be exactly the same since the path is dictated by the perturbation of spacetime.


I fail to see how this might be modded Troll. As for the statement, however, it doesn't work both ways - An Einstein Ring or Einstein Cross is not a discreet feature in space, it's an event similar in principle as an eclipse or occultation, and just as ephemeral. We just happen to be passing through the range where the swath of light from this particular alignment is visible, billions of years after the fact.

My point is that each object in the event so far (including Earth, or the Milky Way if you prefer) became aligned at different points in time.

Think of it this way - The light from this event, like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going and going, so maybe in another couple of billion years, some other galaxy behind us will pass through this swath of light and they'll get to witness a triple Einstein Ring, where we will have effectively become an additional layer of the phenomenon. Then maybe another galaxy a couple of billion light years behind it will see a quadruple Einstein Ring, and so on. But in that far off future, will we get to see an Einstein Ring coming back symmetrically the other way? Nope. We'll be way out of the alignment by then. But not to worry, these type of alignments can and do occur in all directions, all the time. They will become more scarce as the Universe keeps expanding and accelerating, though.

Re:And to them, we are the ring (2, Interesting)

porpnorber (851345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996862)

In your terminology, is there any circumstance under which objects in relative motion can be said to be 'aligned'? While I agree that relativistically speaking alignment isn't generally symmetric, I would have thought that this was exactly the situation in which one would have used the word - despite their limited speed, photon paths are the best 'lines' we have.

Precise (0, Redundant)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993742)

"In addition, the geometry of the two Einstein rings allowed the team to measure the mass of the middle galaxy precisely to be a value of 1 billion solar masses" precisely eh? Give or take a billion.

Re:Precise (1)

JeremyR (6924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993802)

Yeah, you have to wonder how "precise" a measurement is when it comes out to a nice round number :-)

Re:Precise (5, Interesting)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994732)

There's a great story about the first person to accurately measure the height of Mount Everest, whose name escapes me at the moment.

His calculations came out to precisely 29,000 feet. Thinking no-one would believe such a round number, he added two feet to make 29,002 feet but was greatly annoyed by the whole thing.

Later it was more accurately measured at 29,029 feet (going from memory here) using lasers or something.

Re:Precise (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995148)

You're gay. Go fuck yourself and your OH MY GOD I'M A GENIUS attitude you stupid fuck. I hate you and I hope you freeze yourself under a freaking melting glacier. Now go to hell

Re:Precise (2, Funny)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995342)

Hey, thanks for turning out! Nice to hear from another fan. Why not apply for one of my signed photos, or join my fan club?

Re:Precise (2, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995404)

There's a great story about the first person to accurately measure the height of Mount Everest, whose name escapes me at the moment.
Sir Andrew Scott Waugh. He also gave the mountain its English name.

Re:Precise (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996564)

Radhanath Sikdar, according to Wikipedia. I looked that up 'cause I remembered some Indian name but nothing more than that.

Double slit experiment (1)

dhakbar (783117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993800)

This seems like it would be a good opportunity to conduct the double slit experiment on a cosmic scale.

Re:Double slit experiment (0, Offtopic)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994194)

Any slit experiment is fine with me!

(I am so sorry to the one woman on /. for this vulgar, disgusting attempt at humor. Please don't knee me in the nuts. :))

Re:Double slit experiment (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994382)

If you're going to insult have the back-spine not to apologize after spitting in one's face.

Re:Double slit experiment (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996576)

If you're going to insult have the back-spine not to apologize after spitting in one's face.
Insult? Not really an insult. Merely a dirty comment and an acknowledgement of its dirtiness.

And, if you had read closely, I mentioned nothing about faces. ;)

Re:Double slit experiment (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995092)

This seems like it would be a good opportunity to conduct the double slit experiment on a cosmic scale.

Keep your 3-legged alien porn fantasies to yourself.
     

Extemely Rare? (2, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993838)

It seems to me that there must be lots of Double Einstein Rings out there, probably millions of them. We're just not standing in the right place to seem most of them.

Not as amazing.. (4, Funny)

MegaMahr (788652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993968)

As the double ring they found around Uranus [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:Not as amazing.. (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994036)

You just passed up a golden opportunity to post a goatse link... the universe will never forgive you!

Re:Not as amazing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994928)

When the first "Rings Around Uranus" was announced in the San Francisco Chronicle back in the early 70's, it produced many a smile or guffaw for
the gay observers in Berzerkly.

Here come's the PR Blitz (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994042)

Time to update the hubble. Expect a carefully-timed series of photos and
"discoveries" as NASA attempts to make it all seem relevant to U.S. taxpayers.

Re:Here come's the PR Blitz (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994220)

Mod parent up.

Cynical? Sure. Jaded? Sure.

But it should be no surprise to anyone who's had to promote a project for funding...

Re:Here come's the PR Blitz (5, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994452)

Don't worry, we can pay for the whole thing by leaving Iraq one or two days earlier. And plus, if you look at it from the financial angle, a space-industrial complex is just as good of an excuse for corporate welfare handouts as the military-industrial complex. The only difference is that if we spent $300 Billion a year on science, we'd probably get something good for humanity out of it.

It's sad that spending money to unravel the secrets of the universe is sneered at (see parent) while large numbers of people and entire news networks (not necessarily including parent) champion spending trillions of dollars to keep poking the middle east hornet's nest (And apparently think that if we keep poking, the hornets will get tired and give up).

Re:Here come's the PR Blitz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996090)

I love this site. Only in a science article about "Einstein rings" will there be a complete left-field comment out of nowhere like the parent's.

Re:Here come's the PR Blitz (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996280)

OP was implying that this is some sort of scam to get funding; I reply that I find it disheartening a) that NASA is being accused of stunts to get as much money to repair a great instrument of discovery as we spend on Iraq in a day and b) how many people cheer this situation on; I also take a stab at OP's apparent cynicism by saying that if we're gonna have huge corporate handouts, they might as well benefit mankind.

So do you care to point out what exactly is wrong with that?

Obligatory Futurama (3, Funny)

numbware (691928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994188)

Brannigan: "What the hell is that thing?"

Kif: "It appears to be the mothership"

Brannigan: "Then what did we just blow up?"

Kif: "The Hubble Telescope"

Ba dum bum (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994692)

Additionally, the astronomers' significant others are annoyed at them for ruining the coffee table by not putting Eincoasters under their Einsteins.

Apologies to Macbeth (4, Funny)

InterGuru (50986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994744)

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
Hubble finds an Einstein double

Give a shivering man a lit match and it will warm him for a few minutes.
Set him on fire and it will keep him warm for the rest of his life.

Ice giants aka electrons aka black holes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21994924)

2 poles. Light,positive,creation --> dark,negative,destruction.
Every force field is the recording of the flow between poles.
"Energy" is a convention to describe a waveform's peak. "Dark energy" is the sink. Time is the frequency of the signal.
Every 0-dimensional spot can alternate between +/- as demanded from their adjacent fields. Reality's sum is always zero.
Matter is energy in low vibration. We are the waveguides. Forces and fields are recordings of that flow.
Sun is full positive, we are slightly positive, the gas giants even more positive and the ice giants negative.
Our solar system is in equilibrium with that structure. Maybe we're a hydrogen isotope.
We'll soon experience a "collision" with a galaxy "swarm".
Outer fields will compress the orbits on our solar system. Fusion.
My bet is that gas gients will collide and our solar system will be binary again. The creation-destruction spiral never ends it goes in and out of our level/plane of existence to infinity. Think .
Let's accept it and move on. Shrinking fields to contain fusion reactions and cancer tumors could work. Let's swarm.

Unicorn

Re:Ice giants aka electrons aka black holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995972)

Ah, yes. and time is a cube.

odds of this (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21994992)

for this to occur requires four galaxies to be very close to being colinear, and we have to be in one of the endpoints. Looking at the picture though there are several galaxies visible so I suppose they have quite a few to look at for this. I wonder just how rare it is? As in, is this the first one discovered? I'd asume if there were any other known double E rings it would have been mentioned in TFA. Hard to say how rare something is when you only have one of them to go by.

Re:odds of this (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995060)

The article mentions "Einstein Ring" but that's just the visual effect. The actual gravitational lens pair is a "Solan Lens", and was found by a group looking for the single lensing pair variety. http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0511453 [arxiv.org] . Looks like they've found quite a few of the regular ones so far. I suppose you'd call this find a "double Solan Lens"?

Propaganda (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995226)

Quote: "The distribution of dark matter in the foreground galaxies that is warping space to create the gravitational lens can be precisely mapped." Really? How can we "precisely map" something that we have never even shown positively to exist yet? The distribution of gravity could be caused my a number of things other than "dark matter". Gravitational disturbance by itself is not evidence for dark matter, any more than it supports at least several other hypotheses.

Re:Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995390)

"The distribution of dark matter in the foreground galaxies that is warping space to create the gravitational lens"

Unless you radically redefine "space", space doesn't warp. It's much more likely that the gravitational effect of the galaxies is moving the intergalactic medium and/or altering the direction of some photons.

Re:Propaganda (3, Informative)

rush22 (772737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996068)

"The distribution of dark matter in the foreground galaxies that is warping space to create the gravitational lens can be precisely mapped." Really? How can we "precisely map" something that we have never even shown positively to exist yet? The distribution of gravity could be caused my a number of things other than "dark matter". Gravitational disturbance by itself is not evidence for dark matter, any more than it supports at least several other hypotheses.

Yes it is kind of like propaganda to assume dark matter theory is right, but that's the best theory there is. "Dark matter" is just a name for "whatever causes these observations." Whatever it is looks and acts like a gravitational field. Mass produces a gravitational field, so it's assumed to there's some sort of invisible mass, some sort of "dark matter." And they can still "precisely map" the gravitational field, regardless of what is causing it.

And unless you know something physicists don't know, there's not a "number of things" that could cause a gravitational field like that. Interestingly, there is another theory, ether theory [nationalgeographic.com], but even the physicist who came up with it says: "We're offering an alternative to the dark matter theory--we're not saying it's wrong. If I had to bet today on which of these theories was correct, I might bet on dark matter."

neat -- it provides an example anyone can grasp (1)

adrianmonk (890071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21995706)

What I love about this is that it provides an obvious example of a law of physics in action. In high school, my physics teacher told me that gravity distorts space, and my reaction was, OK, sure you can probably come to that conclusion through a long series of complex (or at least clever and not immediately obvious) experiments and lots of math, but I'll have to take your word for it.

This, however, is a simple, simple thing that causes anyone who looks at the photo to want an explanation. That makes it so much more concrete. It's no longer just some abstract idea that makes the math work out; instead, the distortion of space by gravity now has a home within a really simple mental framework: it's the reason these rings show up in this photo.

If somebody says they won't believe that gravity distorts space until they see it with their own eyes, you can show them this photo and say, "Well, now you have." (Granted, seeing via the Hubble telescope isn't literally seeing with your own eyes, but most people have looked through a telescope, so they can relate to that and there isn't much difference.)

Einstein's double ring earns Hubble team award (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21995866)

News Flash: Einstein's double ring earns Hubble team Mark of the Brown Ring. [dwarfurl.com][News], astronomy's most prestigious award.

Solar mass (1)

Seismologist (617169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996182)

Just in case you wanted to know what a solar mass is, wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has it as the mass equivelent to our sun or "about two nonillion kilograms or about 332,950 times the mass of the Earth". The only other question I have relates to the following quote:

... In addition, the geometry of the two Einstein rings allowed the team to measure the mass of the middle galaxy precisely to be a value of 1 billion solar masses...
What the hell kind of "precision" is that?

Could someone please explain? (1)

bpjk (305635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997106)

They say that this effect demonstrates gravity curving space, but couldn't it simply be curving light rather than space itself?

Not a physicist myself, so looking for enlightment from one...

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