One of the Largest, Most Complete Einstein Rings Ever Seen. Astronomers Call it the “Molten Ring”

A very rare astronomical phenomenon has been in the headlines a lot recently, and for good reason.  It will be hundreds of years until we can see Jupiter and Saturn this close to one another again.  However, there are some even more “truly strange and very rare phenomena” that can currently be observed in our night sky.  The only problem is that in order to observe this phenomena, you’ll need access to Hubble.

As always, Hubble provides an absolutely breathtaking pictures. This particular one depicts a gravitational lensing effect that gives an almost perfect example of an “Einstein Ring”.  The image of this ring, called GAL-CLUS-022058s, or, in an enlightened bit of astronomical branding, the “Molten Ring”, was released late last week.

Video discussing the details of Gravitational Lensing.

That branding idea came partially from the physical appearance of the object, which indeed looks like a molten metal ring.  But it also came from the location of the object itself.  Located in the southern constellation Fornax (the Furnace), the image depicts an extremely far away galaxy whose light is bent by a much closer galaxy cluster.

Another Einstein Ring. This one is named LRG 3-757. This one was discovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, but this image was captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Image: NASA/Hubble/ESA
Another Einstein Ring. This one is named LRG 3-757. This one was discovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, but this image was captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.
Credit: NASA/Hubble/ESA

One of the advantages of this lensing effect is that it actually allows scientists to better study the farther away galaxy, which might have been completely invisible otherwise.  While this is not the only known example of the phenomena happening, it is one of the most striking.  But there’s still lots more to potentially find, which Hubble will continue to do, no matter how our solar system’s planets align.

Learn More:
NASA – Hubble See a ‘Molten Ring’
Astronomy.com : Snapshot: Hubble captures a “Molten Ring”
UT: Near Perfect “Einstein Ring” Discovered
UT: New “Einstein Ring” Discovered By Dark Energy Camera