Gravity lens used to study distant galaxy

Oct. 9, 2008 at 3:50 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. and British scientists say they have completed the most detailed study yet of a galaxy in its first stages of development.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology led the study, joined by researchers from Durham University and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. They used the Keck telescope in Hawaii to observe a distant galaxy using a technique called gravitational lensing that was proposed by Albert Einstein.

The scientists said light from the galaxy, 11 billion light-years from Earth, was magnified eight times by the gravitational influence of another galaxy 2.2 billion light-years from Earth.

Study co-author Mark Swinbank of Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology said gravitational lensing is providing astronomers with a glimpse of what they will commonly achieve when the next generation of telescopes comes on line in about 10 years.

The research led by Caltech graduate student Dan Stark is detailed in the journal Nature.

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