Thursday, May 27, 2021

The cosmic horseshoe

The Cosmic Horseshoe is a gravitationally lensed system of two galaxies in the constellation of Leo. It was discovered in 2007.

The foreground galaxy is known as LRG 3-757 and is located at a distance of 5.2 billion light years. This is a very massive galaxy, and it's believed to be 100 times more massive than our galaxy. Additionally, it belongs to a rare class of galaxies known as Luminous Red Galaxies (LRG), due to its extremely high infrared emission.

LRG 3-757 sits in front of our line of sight to a more distant galaxy (10.2 billion light years). As its light passes from the gravitational field of LRG 3-757 it is warped and hence lensed, making the galaxy appear brighter. This effect creates a circular structure that resembles a horseshoe, making it one of the best examples of an Einstein Ring.

Image: Composite image of the Cosmic Horseshoe taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The image was created using broadband filters that are centred at 435 nm (B-band, blue), 606 nm (V-band, green), and 814 nm (I-band, red).

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

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