On December 18, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took an image that depicted GAL-CLUS-022058s, which is nicknamed molten ring, located in the southern hemisphere constellation of Fornax (the Furnace). According to ESA, the Molten Ring captured by the Hubble telescope is the largest and one of the most complete Einstein rings ever discovered in our universe. The “Molten Ring” is part of Einstein’s ring which is being studied by astronomers.
The curving features of this molten gold ring-esque space object were first theorized to exist by German-American scientist Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity. The Molten Ring’s unique shape is explained by ESA as a process called gravitational lensing, which causes light shining from far away to be bent and pulled by the gravity of a space object between the source and the observer.
According to ESA, the light emitted from the background galaxy has been distorted into the curve that is being projected by the gravity of the galaxy cluster sitting in front of it, in case of the Molten Ring.
The almost perfect ring-like structure seen in the image is made with the warping and magnification of the background galaxy, which is almost in exact alignment of the background galaxy with the central elliptical galaxy of the cluster seen in the middle of this picture. Additional distortions are formed because of the gravity from other galaxies in the cluster.
According to European Space Agency, astronomical objects like these are the ideal laboratories to study galaxies that are usually too faint and distant to otherwise see without gravitational lensing. NASA Hubble also shared the picture of this phenomenal golden space ring on its Instagram page. Sharing it with its 3.8 million followers, NASA captioned the image “Put a “Molten Ring” on it!” Over 82,908 users have liked the Instagram post.
Reacting to this rare phenomena, one user commented, “So you’re telling me my entire childhood was a lie ? We can bend light!” While some could not believe the image was real, as one user commented, “Is it actual image??? (sic)” Some users urged NASA to sell prints of the molten ring image, “You should sell prints of these! I would totally buy them!”