Gravitational lens could shed light on the origin of the Universe

Friday, January 14, 2011

LONDON - Astronomers have demonstrated how gravitational lensing, a phenomenon in which light from a distant object is bent around a massive foreground object, allows us to see the faintest and most distant galaxies.

It could us to understand the origin of the Universe, say researchers.

A team, led by Dr. Dennis Walsh of The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, discovered the first gravitational lens in 1979.

Since then, astronomers have used gravitational lenses in many ways, including studying dark matter and as “Nature’s Telescope” to investigate galaxies in the distant universe

Professor Shude Mao of the University of Manchester, along with Stuart Wyithe (University of Melbourne), Haojing Yan (Ohio State University) and Rogier Windhorst (Arizona State University), have calculated that gravitational lenses allow us to see farther into space than previously thought.

They argue that gravitational lens makes faint sources more visible and this effect may be even more important than originally thought when looking at distant galaxies. Acting like a cosmic magnifying glass, gravitational lens brings into clearer view galaxies, which would otherwise be beyond the reach of even the largest telescopes.

Mao added: “The magnifying effect of gravitational lensing gives us a much better chance of seeing very distant objects in the universe, otherwise too faint to see, and study them in far greater detail.”

The study has been published in the journal Nature. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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