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Cymraeg

Gravitational lensing

This image illustrates the effect of gravitational lensing as seen by Herschel and ground-based telescopes.

Image illustrates the effect of gravitational lensing as seen by Herschel and ground-based telescopes.

The light from a distant galaxy (red), is warped and magnified by the presence of a foreground galaxy (blue). This makes the distant galaxy appear much brighter, seen by Herschel as the orange dot in the upper-most panels. The lensing also distorts the image observed by the Submillimeter Array (SMA), shown here in pink. The foreground galaxy is not seen by Herschel, but is observed by optical telescopes such as the W. M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii, shown in blue. The light from the distant galaxy has been travelling for 11 billion years, allowing astronomers to observe the precursors to galaxies like our own in the very early Universe. The effect of the gravitational lensing can be used to work out the structure of both galaxies, probing the formation of stars.