Finding What Should Not Be ThereCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: June 29, 2012 12:22PM
There will always be more to discover. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and more have found something in the very distant Universe that simply should not exist except by unbelievable luck. A galaxy cluster, roughly 10 billion light years away, has gravitational lensed an even more distant galaxy into an arc. Gravitational lensing is not exactly uncommon in the Universe, but it has never been observed with such distant objects before, and according to our understanding of the Universe, it should not be possible that far into the past.
Gravitational lensing occurs when one extremely massive object is placed in front of something that emits lights. The gravity of the massive object amplifies and distorts the light of the more distant object. This is actually a useful phenomenon as it makes extremely distant objects more visible, by the amplification. The problem here is that no galaxy cluster 10 billion light years away should be massive enough to accomplish this, and no still-further galaxy should be bright enough for the lensing to make it visible to us. Obviously the Universe still has some surprises for us.
There is still the chance that this is a complete fluke and not something to greatly concern researchers. Only additional surveys of other ancient and massive galaxy clusters can tell us that. However, this is still so unexpected that an explanation does need to be found.