Stunningly perfect ‘Einstein ring’ captured by James Webb Space Telescope

A near-perfect Einstein ring from the galaxy JO418 stands out in this image created using data collected by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.  (Image credit: Spaceguy44)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has snapped a perfect shot of an “Einstein ring.” The stunning halo is the result of light from a distant galaxy passing through warped space-time surrounding another galaxy aligned between the distant light source and Earth. The new image, which was created by a Reddit-based astronomy enthusiast, is one of the best examples of the trippy astronomical phenomenon ever captured.

The ring of light in the new image comes from the distant galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8 (or JO418 for short), which is around 12 billion light-years from Earth, making it one of the oldest galaxies in the universe. JO418 is orientated directly behind another galaxy — the bright blue light at the center of the ring — which is so massive that its gravitational pull warps the space-time around it. As light from JO418 reaches the foreground galaxy it travels through this warped space-time. From Earth, it looks as though the light has curved around the galaxy, but the electromagnetic waves we see have actually been traveling in a straight line the entire time.

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