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Unconventional ‘Einstein Ring’ Implies Shadowy Dark Matter Undergoes Self-Interaction

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Unconventional ‘Einstein Ring’ Implies Shadowy Dark Matter Undergoes Self-Interaction

Einstein Ring

One of the most extensive Einstein ring ever found in the Universe, GAL-CLUS-022058s, is also one of the largest. Of its look and host constellation, the object has been dubbed the “Molten Ring” by the Principal Investigator and his team investigating this Einstein ring.

An Einstein ring is highly unusual, and Complete Einstein rings are pretty unusual. The ring van Dokkum and his team discovered is tiny when viewed through a stargazer’s lens. Even with the most advanced ground-based telescope, Earth’s atmosphere would obscure the view, making it impossible to observe the ring.

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Pieter van Dokkum was delighted to receive an invitation not long ago. Does he want to glimpse previously unseen pictures of the cosmos? He would, in fact.

In a matter of days, the renowned astronomer van Dokkum of Yale University and his former pupil Gabriel Brammer of the University of Copenhagen were able to detect, in a mosaic picture captured by the JWST, a whole Einstein ring—one of the most unusual occurrences in space. A dazzling halo of light created by the illusion of perfect alignment of two galaxies in our sky.

One of the great things about Einstein’s rings is this. The spot where the ring is seen is empty, according to van Dokkum. The Einstein ring would appear to grow in size as you approach it in a spaceship, but it will eventually fade away.

The mind-bending component, he explains, is that. This concept is so outlandish that even Einstein called the possibility of an entire observable ring a “science-fiction effect.” In Obi-Wan’s words, they are only accurate when seen through a specific lens.

And yet, scientists can learn hints about the origins of massive galaxies and the existence of dark matter—two of the universe’s most perplexing mysteries—by studying their diameters.

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Einstein Ring

The Hell’s Horn: If a galaxy is large enough, it can distort spacetime to deflect light that would typically go past us instead into what Einstein termed a “luminous circle” encircling the nearby galaxy, therefore letting us see a distant galaxy right behind a nearby one. Nature Astronomy is the source of this image.

Complete Einstein rings, such as the one described in October by van Dokkum and colleagues in Nature Astronomy, are highly unusual.

An Einstein Ring is a rare phenomenon that occurs when two galaxies are aligned so that the light from one galaxy is bent around the other, creating a circular shape.

It is unusual for the alignment to be so precise that the ring is perfectly round says Tony Stark, a cosmologist and astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (no, he’s not Iron Man).

According to NASA, “the most elegant manifestation” of the enchanting astrophysical phenomenon known as gravitational lensing is Einstein’s rings.

The giant galaxy nearest to Earth, shown by the ring’s dot, is a magnifying glass. Like a magnifying glass, a lens can change how light reaches our eyes or instruments, transforming an object’s appearance.

By concentrating the light rays from an object, a magnifying glass can make it look closer or more significant than it actually is.

According to Van Dokkum, gravitational lenses cause a great deal of light that would typically go unnoticed by Earth (or an object’s retina in the case of a magnifying glass) to be deflected toward Earth.

Because of that, the overall amount of light emitted by these things is magnified. Van Dokkum explains that gravitational lenses work similarly to optical lenses in amplifying light.

“Even with James Webb, we couldn’t get these images of faraway galaxies with such a high level of detail and brightness.”

Van Dokkum identified the most distant lens known when they detected it—a galaxy that acts like a lens in the core of the Einstein ring. Its light circled the ring for ten billion years, giving the impression of a dot. It has taken the ring’s light 11.5 billion years to get here.

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The whole Einstein ring provides “further evidence that massive galaxies started forming very early in the universe’s history,” according to Van Dokkum.

This has been a persistent mystery to cosmologists since early 2023 when pictures taken by the Webb Telescope revealed the presence of unusually massive galaxies in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang.

Van Dokkum claims the giant galaxies shouldn’t have formed so early based on present cosmological theory. “How heavy are those?” is the primary concern. Tell me how hefty they are, he asks.

The galaxy inside the ring can be traced back to those primordial galaxies. But we may have underestimated the masses rather than exaggerated them. This would make it even more difficult to explain how the cosmos could have produced such a large amount of material at such a young age.

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Einstein Ring

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The ring discovered by van Dokkum and his team is tiny when viewed through the lens of a stargazer. Even with the most advanced ground-based telescope, Earth’s atmosphere would obscure the view, making it impossible to observe the ring.

“It would merely be a blob,” proclaims van Dokkum. However, he was surprised by how large the ring was.

“Even considering dark matter, the large diameter of this ring remains unexplained,” remarks van Dokkum.

Based on the size of the ring, he estimates that the central galaxy, which appears as a bright dot in the image, must have a mass approximately ten times that of our own Milky Way galaxy. Our visible universe consists of both dark matter and stars. However, further information must exist.

The magnitude of the Einstein ring indicates that the lensing galaxy contains more mass than what might be calculated from the number of visible stars within it.

There’s a factor of almost six between them. “That’s strange,” remarks Yale University astrophysicist Chiara Mingarelli.

Her favorite part was when van Dokkum wondered aloud how much of the galaxy’s missing mass may be dark matter and how much could be other factors. She asks if she can explain it by saying dark matter is the only factor.

No, not totally. The mass indicated by the visible stars plus some dark matter is more closely aligned with the ring size, making it a more accurate match. However, the certainty that it is entirely dark matter remains uncertain. There is tension. No one can figure it out.

Our telescopes aren’t sensitive enough, yet there are a tonne of stars lurking around the galactic core. “Perhaps there are stars in that region that are half the sun’s mass but not very bright,” Mingarelli speculates.

To receive the correct answer, you need to be able to view them. Another possibility is that the amount of dark matter being accounted for by van Dokkum and colleagues is inadequate.

He explains that they estimate the amount of dark matter by using computer simulations. “Perhaps dark matter is going unnoticed. However, additional information is needed to solve that mystery.

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Unique ‘Einstein Ring’ Theory Proposes Self-Interacting Dark Matter.

Einstein Ring

A new study of a highly giant yet compact galaxy from the early cosmos shows that dark matter interacts with itself.

Last October, photos captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) revealed the formation of the galaxy JWST-ER1, which occurred only 3.4 billion years after the Big Bang.

Light beams from an unseen galaxy are bent by the space-warping mass of JWST-ER1g, creating the farthest-ever example of a perfect “Einstein ring”—an unbroken circle of light surrounding the galaxy. JWST-ER1g is located more than 17 billion light-years away from Earth.

The cosmic mirage is a beautiful result of a fortunate alignment of galaxies. Still, it also provides scientists with a valuable tool to quantify the mass contained within the radius of the ring independent of models.

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The JWST captured the most distant gravitationally lensed object ever seen, which will be known as the “Einstein ring.”

The finding team concluded that the galaxy is 650 billion suns heavy, making it unusually dense for its size, by determining the exact amount by which JWST-ER1g has bent spacetime around itself.

Physicists can determine the percentage of a galaxy that consists of dark matter—an invisible substance believed to constitute more than 80% of all matter in our universe—by removing the visible stellar mass from the overall inferred mass.

Despite decades of observations and mountains of indirect evidence, we still need direct detection of the elusive substance.

The finding team in JWST-ER1g found that dark matter accounts for around half of the mass gap and that “additional mass appears to be needed to explain the lensing results,” as stated in the discovery study published last fall.

Hai-Bo Yu, a professor at UCR and a co-author of the new study, stated, “The value for the dark matter mass seems higher than expected.” “This is puzzling.”

In a recent publication, Yu and colleagues propose that a higher stellar population than previously believed could account for the exceptionally high density observed at JWST-ER1g.

“More dark matter mass in the same volume, resulting in higher density,” study lead author Demao Kong of UCR said in the same statement, suggesting that JWST-ER1g’s dark matter halo may be experiencing a contraction mechanism where ordinary matter “collapses and condenses” into it.

Cosmic halo dark matter, densest in the galactic core, acts as a gravitational glue to keep galaxies in motion from crashing into one another. Models with self-interacting dark matter particles also give “an excellent fit to the measurement of JWST-ER1,” as stated in the latest research.

The nature of dark matter remains a mystery. According to observational indications, its gravitational interactions with regular matter are the sole way to deduce its presence, suggesting that it is a new particle form.

Dark matter may consist of a single type of particle or a complex variety of types, similar to ordinary matter, but with the added possibility of being influenced by other, as-yet-undiscovered forces.

In December last year, Yu oversaw simulations of structures formed by self-interacting dark matter.

The results showed that the density of the dark matter halos in some galaxies is exceptionally high. In contrast, in others, it is surprisingly low. The currently popular “cold dark matter” theory can explain neither of these phenomena.

So, physicists hope that JWST can shed more light on dark matter. Yu speculated that the future probes of early universe galaxies, made possible by the telescope’s unparalleled infrared eyes, may provide light on the nature and behavior of dark matter particles.

“We expect to see more surprises from JWST and learn more about dark matter soon.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you enjoyed it, please consider following me on Medium and LinkedIn and subscribing to my website newsletter for more stories in various categories. Have a great day!

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