Sunday, March 09, 2008
The Best Gravitational Lensing ... Evah
Here we see a spiral galaxy being smeared into a crescent as its light is bent through the warped space around a galaxy cluster. The size and brightness of the smear indicates the warped spiral is not too far (ahem) behind the galaxy cluster.
Albert Einstein predicted this exact effect in 1916 while developing his General Theory of Relativity. Only now, with the Hubble Space Telescope, can Albert Einstein's prediction be observed and confirmed. Gravity is the bending of space. Light must follow the bending of space, just as light must bend as it passes through the glass lens of a telescope.
I love this Hubble Telescope photo because it illustrates the Greatness of Science. Science is at its most powerful when theory and data independently point to one explanation and exclude all others. This photograph shows gravity bending space itself. If someone has an alternative explanation for this photograph, they are always welcome to propose it.