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Let’s pause here for a moment of perspective. We are now discussing numbers by which even astronomers sometimes feel overwhelmed. The Coma cluster may have 10, 20, or 30 thousand galaxies, and each galaxy has billions and billions of stars. If you were traveling at the speed of light, it would still take you more than 10 million years (longer than the history of the human species) to cross this giant swarm of galaxies. And if you lived on a planet on the outskirts of one of these galaxies, many other members of the cluster would be close enough to be noteworthy sights in your nighttime sky.

Central region of the coma cluster.

Small Galaxies Outnumber Large Galaxies. This combined visible-light image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and infrared Spitzer Space Telescope view of the central region of the Coma Cluster has been color coded so that faint dwarf galaxies are seen as green. Large ellipticals and spirals are few compared to the number of dwarf galaxies.
This combined visible-light (from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey) and infrared (from the Spitzer Space Telescope) image has been color coded so that faint dwarf galaxies are seen as green. Note the number of little green smudges on the image. The cluster is roughly 320 million light-years away from us. (credit: modification of work by NASA/JPL-Caltech/L. Jenkins (GSFC))

Really rich clusters such as Coma usually have a high concentration of galaxies near the center. We can see giant elliptical galaxies in these central regions but few, if any, spiral galaxies. The spirals that do exist generally occur on the outskirts of clusters.

We might say that ellipticals are highly “social”: they are often found in groups and very much enjoy “hanging out” with other ellipticals in crowded situations. It is precisely in such crowds that collisions are most likely and, as we discussed earlier, we think that most large ellipticals are built through mergers of smaller galaxies.

Spirals, on the other hand, are more “shy”: they are more likely to be found in poor clusters or on the edges of rich clusters where collisions are less likely to disrupt the spiral arms or strip out the gas needed for continued star formation.

Gravitational lensing

As we saw in Black Holes and Curved Spacetime , spacetime is more strongly curved in regions where the gravitational field is strong. Light passing very near a concentration of matter appears to follow a curved path. In the case of starlight passing close to the Sun, we measure the position of the distant star to be slightly different from its true position.

Now let’s consider the case of light from a distant galaxy or quasar that passes near a concentration of matter such as a cluster of galaxies on its journey to our telescopes. According to general relativity, the light path may be bent in a variety of ways; as a result we can observe distorted and even multiple images ( [link] ).

Gravitational lensing.

Illustration of Gravitational Lensing. At left is a blue ball labeled “Observer on Earth”. At center a “Galaxy” is drawn as a white ellipse, and at far right a “Quasar” is drawn as a white circle. Two yellow arrows are drawn from the quasar pointing to the left representing light from the quasar. One points horizontally and one points at an angle toward the bottom center of the diagram. Where these arrows are closest to the galaxy at center, they change direction, with each arrow now pointing toward Earth. The angle between the arrows where they contact Earth is labeled with the Greek letter “theta”. To the observer on Earth looking along the lines separated by “theta”, two images of the quasar would appear: “Image A” above the galaxy, and “Image B” below the galaxy.
This drawing shows how a gravitational lens can make two images. Two light rays from a distant quasar are shown being bent while passing a foreground galaxy; they then arrive together at Earth. Although the two beams of light contain the same information, they now appear to come from two different points on the sky. This sketch is oversimplified and not to scale, but it gives a rough idea of the lensing phenomenon.

Gravitational lenses can produce not only double images, as shown in [link] , but also multiple images, arcs, or rings. The first gravitational lens discovered, in 1979, showed two images of the same distant object. Eventually, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture remarkable images of the effects of gravitational lenses. One example is shown in [link] .

Multiple images of a gravitationally lensed supernova.

Multiple Images of a Gravitationally-lensed Supernova. The background image is of a distant galaxy cluster through which the light of an even more distant supernova has passed (white box at center). The enlargement at right shows the four images of the supernova (arrowed) around the lensing galaxy.
Light from a supernova at a distance of 9 billion light-years passed near a galaxy in a cluster at a distance of about 5 billion light-years. In the enlarged inset view of the galaxy, the arrows point to the multiple images of the exploding star. The images are arranged around the galaxy in a cross-shaped pattern called an Einstein Cross. The blue streaks wrapping around the galaxy are the stretched images of the supernova’s host spiral galaxy, which has been distorted by the warping of space. (credit: modification of work by NASA, ESA, and S. Rodney (JHU) and the FrontierSN team; T. Treu (UCLA), P. Kelly (UC Berkeley), and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI))

General relativity predicts that the light from a distant object may also be amplified by the lensing effect, thereby making otherwise invisible objects bright enough to detect. This is particularly useful for probing the earliest stages of galaxy formation, when the universe was young. [link] shows an example of a very distant faint galaxy that we can study in detail only because its light path passes through a large concentration of massive galaxies and we now see a brighter image of it.

Distorted images of a distant galaxy produced by gravitational lensing in a galaxy cluster.

Distorted Images of a Distant Galaxy Produced by Gravitational Lensing in a Galaxy Cluster. The distorted images of the galaxy are circled in white and lie outside the galaxy cluster at the center of the image. A small box near the center of the cluster marks the position of the background galaxy being lensed by the cluster. The image in the large box at lower left is a reconstruction of what the lensed galaxy would look like in the absence of the cluster.
The rounded outlines show the location of distinct, distorted images of the background galaxy resulting from lensing by the mass in the cluster. The image in the box at lower left is a reconstruction of what the lensed galaxy would look like in the absence of the cluster, based on a model of the cluster’s mass distribution, which can be derived from studying the distorted galaxy images. The reconstruction shows far more detail about the galaxy than could have been seen in the absence of lensing. As the image shows, this galaxy contains regions of star formation glowing like bright Christmas tree bulbs. These are much brighter than any star-formation regions in our Milky Way Galaxy. (credit: modification of work by NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI))

We should note that the visible mass in a galaxy is not the only possible gravitational lens. Dark matter can also reveal itself by producing this effect. Astronomers are using lensed images from all over the sky to learn more about where dark matter is located and how much of it exists.

Questions & Answers

In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
how to put E=MC2
Gospel Reply
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By "How To Put E=MC2?
Adam
yep
Gospel
Hi guys
Samuel
i mean how NASA came to know the mass and diameters of Stars.how?
Gospel
how did they do using E=MC2
Gospel
thats my questioning
Gospel
that's easy formula's derivation
Madhav
why all planets revolving orbits are nearly in equal inclination?
Kartik Reply
***medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-82-why-are-the-planets-all-in-the-same-plane-4470245c8743
rishabh
dependent on the mass
Madhav
no
Janak
I think because of the Suns gravity pull ,😕😕
Samuel
Samuel,. it's but obvious
Madhav
what hubbel's law. and examples on it.?
Kavyanjali Reply
Hubbel's Law is a Expanding Universe. The distant galaxies we see in all directions are moving away from the Earth, as evidenced by their red shifts. Hubble's law describes this expansion.
Роза
okk. sir/madam, i studied that all 3 laws.
Kavyanjali
i m solving examples on "p" square directly proportional to "a"cube
Kavyanjali
Practice Key Terms 6

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