Distant Supernova Split Four Ways by Gravitational Lens

In this Hubble Space Telescope image, the many red galaxies are members of the massive MACS J1149.6+2223 cluster, which creates distorted and highly magnified images of the galaxies behind it. A large cluster galaxy (center of the box) has split the light from an exploding supernova in a magnified background galaxy into four yellow images (arrows) to form an Einstein Cross. [Image credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Rodney (JHU) and the FrontierSN team; T. Treu (UCLA), P. Kelly (UC Berkeley) and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields Team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI)]

From release by Robert Sanders:  "Over the past several decades, astronomers have come to realize that the sky is filled with magnifying glasses that allow the study of very distant and faint objects barely visible with even the largest telescopes.

A University of California, Berkeley, astronomer has now found that one of these lenses – a massive galaxy within a cluster of galaxies that are gravitationally bending and magnifying light – has created four separate images of a distant supernova.

The so-called “Einstein cross” will allow a unique study of a distant supernova and the distribution of dark matter in the lensing galaxy and cluster.

“Basically, we get to see the supernova four times and measure the time delays between its arrival in the different images, hopefully learning something about the supernova and the kind of star it exploded from, as well as about the gravitational lenses,” said UC Berkeley postdoctoral scholar Patrick Kelly, who discovered the supernova while looking through infrared images taken Nov. 10, 2014, by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). “That will be neat.”"

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TAGS: Supernova, Patrick Kelly, Hubble, Melissa Graham, Bradley Tucker, Alex Filippenko, research, discoveries