Astronomers Dissect a Supermassive Black Hole with Natural Magnifying Glasses
12 december 2008


ESO PR Photo 47a/08
The Einstein Cross

The Einstein Cross and the galaxy that causes this 'cosmic mirage', as seen with the FORS instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. This cross-shaped configuration consists of four images of a single very distant source. The multiple images are a result of gravitational lensing by a foreground galaxy, an effect that was predicted by Albert Einstein as a consequence of his theory of general relativity. The light source in the Einstein Cross is a quasar approximately ten billion light-years away, whereas the foreground lensing galaxy is ten times closer. The light from the quasar is bent in its path and magnified by the gravitational field of the lensing galaxy.
Credit: ESO/F. Courbin et al.



ESO PR Photo 47b/08
The Einstein Cross
[Preview - JPEG: 187 x 187 pix - 92k]

Close-up of the Einstein Cross, as observed with the SINFONI instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. SINFONI makes use of the adaptive optics technique and so, allows astronomers to overcome the blurring effect of the atmosphere, thereby providing very sharp images. The central blob is the nucleus of the lensing galaxy, surrounded by the four mirage images of the distant quasar.
Credit: ESO/F. Courbin et al.



ESO PR Video 47/08
Macro and microlensing