A stunning new image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows a supernova hosting galaxy not once, not twice, but three times at different points in time.
This seemingly time-defying image by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was possible thanks to the massive gravitational influence of a foreground galactic cluster and a light-bending phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein over a century ago called "gravitational lensing."
In his theory of general relativity, Einstein predicted that mass warps the very fabric of space and time, or "spacetime." This is analogous to placing a ball on a stretched rubber sheet, with the ball causing a dent in the sheet. The greater the mass of the ball the larger the degree of warping it causes. This is also true in the case of spacetime, stars cause a greater "warp" than planets, and galaxies cause a greater warping of space than stars.
This warping affects the passage of light as it travels past the object of mass from a background object. In extreme cases, because light can take different paths around the lensing object from the background lensed object on its way to us, it can cause the background object to be magnified or even appear at multiple points in the sky. That means this phenomenon, "gravitational lensing" has become a powerful tool for astronomers in studying very distant objects.
Related: 12 amazing James Webb Space Telescope discoveries
The lensing object in this new JWST image is the galactic cluster RX J2129, located around 3.2 billion light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. RX J2129 is lensing a background red-colored supernova-hosting galaxy replicating it.
The supernova explosion was discovered by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and is a Type Ia supernova designated AT 2022riv. These are often referred to as "standard candles" by astronomers because of how uniform their light is. This uniformity means that Type Ia supernovas can actually be used as a tool of measure cosmic distances because at the same distance, they would look exactly the same.
As a gravitational lens, RX J2129 has created three images of this galaxy that aren't the same in size, position, or even age because of the different paths the light from the background galaxy takes and thus the different times it arrives at the JWST.
The light that follows the longest path shows the background galaxy at its oldest age and at a time when its supernova was still occurring. The next image from the second longest path shows the galaxy just 320 days later, and the last one with the shortest light path 1,000 days after the first. In both of these later images, the supernova AT 2022riv has already faded from view.
Also appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the image are several background objects that due to the warping effect of gravitational lensing appear as concentric arcs of light.
The observations were made by the JWST using its Near-InfraRed Camera (opens in new tab) (NIRSpec) which was able to measure the brightness of AT 2022riv, a very distant and thus early supernova. The powerful space telescope has also been to perform spectroscopy on the light from the event, which should allow this distant supernova to be compared to more recently occurring Type Ia supernovas in the local universe.
This comparison could be used to test the accuracy of using these supernovae when measuring distances, thus verifying the results of one of astronomy's most useful tools.
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Imaging and Spectroscopy of Three Highly Magnified Images of a Supernova at z=1.5, https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2022hst..prop17253K/abstract, September 2022. "We have detected a strongly lensed supernova (SN) in HST imaging of the RX J2129 galaxy-cluster field acquired on August 7, 2022. The SN's apparent F110W magnitude of 24.70+-0.15 and a non-detection in F606W yield an 80% probability that the transient is a Type Ia SN. The foreground galaxy-cluster gravitational lens creates a set of three images of the SN's host galaxy at redshift 1.52, and we have detected the SN in the trailing, or last-arriving image. The other images are predicted to have arrived ~320 and ~1000 days previously."
Quite an interesting interpretation here. redshift 1.52 = 9.454 Gly distance for light time or look back distance. The comoving radial distance is 14.590 Gly away today from Earth. Space is expanding at the comoving radial distance at 1.0295671 x c velocity (using H0=69 km/s/Mpc). I note this report states, "Using gravitational lensing and a massive galaxy cluster located 3.2 billion light years away the powerful space telescope replicated a distant galaxy three times in a single image." I do not know where this figure (3.2 billion light years away) came from unless the massive galaxy cluster is much closer with smaller redshift like perhaps 0.3.
Spacetime is nonsense if the speed of light is not "always the same" :
"Special relativity is based on the observation that the speed of light is always the same, independently of who measures it, or how fast the source of the light is moving with respect to the observer. Einstein demonstrated that as an immediate consequence, space and time can no longer be independent, but should rather be considered a new joint entity called "spacetime." https://www.bowdoin.edu/news/2015/04/physics-professor-baumgarte-describes-100-years-of-gravity.html
The speed of light is obviously not the same for the stationary observer and the moving observer here:
The speed of the light pulses relative to the stationary observer is
c = df
where d is the distance between subsequent pulses and f is the frequency at the stationary observer. The speed of the pulses relative to the moving observer is
c'= df' > c
The speed of light VARIES with the speed of the emitter, as posited by Newton's theory
and unequivocally proved by the Michelson-Morley experiment:
"Emission theory, also called emitter theory or ballistic theory of light, was a competing theory for the special theory of relativity, explaining the results of the Michelson–Morley experiment of 1887...The name most often associated with emission theory is Isaac Newton. In his corpuscular theory Newton visualized light "corpuscles" being thrown off from hot bodies at a nominal speed of c with respect to the emitting object, and obeying the usual laws of Newtonian mechanics, and we then expect light to be moving towards us with a speed that is offset by the speed of the distant emitter (c ± v)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emission_theory
Banesh Hoffmann, Einstein's co-author, admits that, originally ("without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations"), the Michelson-Morley experiment was compatible with Newton's variable speed of light, c'=c±v, and incompatible with the constant speed of light, c'=c:
"Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether." Banesh Hoffmann, Relativity and Its Roots, p.92 https://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Its-Roots-Banesh-Hoffmann/dp/0486406768
Too bad you can't get it more dimensional to illustrate the seeming slowing down to a retreat into history to his rear (qualifying as traveling faster than the speed of light), to an ultimate result maintaining the same light-time distance between, say, Sol and Centauri which he traveled between, and in four years -- per the speed of light -- from his arrival to the Centauri system have the observer at Sol observe him to arrive four years younger than the observer 'twin' four years older than him that difference of four light years between the two systems in combined frame regardless of all other relative time passed whether infinite Star Trek-like warp speed travel or slow speed travel.
And the traveler, if he could, would see the observer at Sol four light years away to be four years younger simply because of the four light year difference, , , light taking four years to pass between the two in combined 0-point / Planck universal frame.
There are four different dimensions of light-time history involved, not the two only in your grid, Centauri to Sol (which you illustrate), Centauri to the traveler (which you illustrate as a growing, an accelerating, gain into a future (+) . . . okay), the traveler to the observer (which you don't illustrate . . . as a growing, an accelerating, loss into past*-)), and the observer to the traveler (which you don't illustrate . . . as a growing, an accelerating, loss into past (-)). It is in no way a one, or even two, dimensional light-time photo-history picture. It is four-dimensional time, four dimensions of light-time history, four different histories, minimum! Three variations of speed of time, speed of light-time history, passage, not counting the clocks and clock timing, the (two system, locked to the 0-point combine, Centauri and Sol) observers' and the traveler's onboard clock essentially observing gain to future (+) -- to Centauri -- to the fore and loss to past (-) to the rear -- to Sol, in exactly equal parts light-time history gain and light-time history loss., whether traveling at Star Trek-like warp speed or a few thousand years of unpowered speed.
The grid lines between traveler and observer, as time, as light-time history, grid lines, would be continuously widening in distance between grid lines (again grid lines of time / of light-time) as the distance between traveler and observer at Sol continuously widens. For the traveler, Sol, and the observer at Sol, falls into the past (-), eventually four years into the past (-). For the observer at Sol, the traveler falls into the past (-), eventually four years into the past (-) . . . at Centauri. At Centauri, for the observer at Centauri, the traveler comes from the past (-), comes from history (-), light-time history . . . at accelerated speeds. None of it changes the speed of light, or the light-time (the 'photo'-history) distance, between Sol and Centauri, between Centauri and Sol, for any the three participants in the act in the 0-point combine, the quantum entanglement, of the two systems.