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According to a recent article published at the journal Science, scientists have managed to catch a type Ia supernova magnified 50 times with the help of gravitational lensing. This rare feat could potentially help scientists to understand the rate of expansion of universe and shed some light into mysterious dark matter.
Talking about the discovery, Caltech’s Mansi Kasliwal said, “Once this grows into a larger sample, then certainly you can use this to constrain gravitational lensing and dark matter and Einstein’s general theory of relativity — all of these.”
As light reaches to our telescopes after it goes through different changes along the way, it makes it difficult to understand different phenomenon. For example, ever changing light leading up to telescopes make it extremely difficult to calculate distance of a given star. However, the Type Ia supernova is always consistent regarding the luminosity. As a result, scientists can successfully understand distance of a given star. As easy as it sounds, it’s been extremely difficult to find such type Ia supernova.
However, earlier last year, the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego spotted a strangely bright object appear in the night sky. Afterwards, the object was studied by groups of scientists. It resulted in four magnified images. Talking about the discovery, Kasliwal said, “It just made no sense because the spectroscopic redshift was so high that that would make this event intrinsically over-bright — just too bright to be a type Ia supernova even though the spectrum looked just like a type Ia supernova. When I saw that spectrum I was completely baffled. I just didn’t know how to make sense of it. And then [who is the lead author] Ariel Goobar, my colleague, said, ‘Well, what if this was lensed?’”
Scientists are hoping that the fresh discovery will give them new perspectives to understand the dark matter as well as Einstein’s theory of relativity.