An international team of astronomers have found and imaged one the brightest distant galaxies. The discovery was made possible by a lensing event.
The light of the newly discovered galaxy BG1429+1202 was bent and magnified by the gravitational pull of massive elliptical galaxy lying in its sightline. The lensing yields four differently sized images of BG1429+1202, one with a magnifying effect of nine.
“This is one of the few known cases of galaxies, with a very high apparent brightness and also an intrinsically high luminosity,” Rui Marques Chaves, a doctoral student at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, part of the University of La Laguna, said in a news release. “The observations allowed us to determine its key properties in a very short time.”
BG1429+1202 is located 11.4 billion light-years away. The distant galaxy emits Lyman alpha radiation, revealing the collection of stars as it was just 2.3 million years after the Big Bang.
The Lyman alpha radiation band is one of the brightest in the ultraviolet range, and BG1429+1202 is one of the largest emitters of Lyman alpha radiation yet imaged. Most objects surveyed in the Lyman alpha radiation band are gravitationally lensed.
Gravity lenses act like second, third and fourth telescopes on astronomical surveys, boosting the power of astronomers imaging abilities.
“We can carry out studies which would be impossible without the presence of the lenses,” said Ismael Perez Fournon, a researcher at the IAC-ULL. “In practice it is as if we were observing already with one of the future giant telescopes, such as the Extremely Large European Telescope.”
Researchers described their discovery in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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