Webb spotted a second lensed supernova in a distant galaxy

The NASA James Webb Space Telescope has spotted a multiply imaged supernova in a distant galaxy designated MRG-M0138. Two supernova images (circled) can be seen in the Webb NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) image above, but an additional supernova image is expected to appear around 2035. In this image the blue represents light of 1.15 and 1.5 microns (F115W+). F150), green is 2.0 and 2.77 microns (F200W+277W), and red is 3.56 and 4.44 microns (F356W + F444W). Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Justin Pierel (STScI) and Andrew Newman (Carnegie Institution for Science).

In November 2023, the James Webb Space Telescope observed a large galaxy cluster named MACS J0138.0-2155. Through an effect called gravitational lensing, first predicted by Albert Einstein, a distant galaxy named MRG-M0138 appears to be warped by the strong gravity of the intervening galaxy cluster. In addition to warping and magnifying the distant galaxy, the gravitational lensing effect caused by MACS J0138 produced five different images of MRG-M0138.

In 2019, astronomers announced the surprising discovery that a stellar explosion, or supernova, had occurred inside MRG-M0138, as seen in images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope taken last 2016.

When another group of astronomers analyzed the 2023 Webb images, they were surprised to find that the same galaxy was home to a second supernova seven years later. Justin Pierel (NASA Einstein Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute) and Andrew Newman (staff astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science) tell us more about the first time two gravitationally lensed supernovae have been found in the same galaxy.

“When a supernova explodes behind a gravitational lens, its light reaches Earth through several different paths. We can compare these paths to many trains leaving a station at the same time, all traveling at the same speed and to the same location. The train route is different, and due to the difference in travel time and terrain, the trains cannot reach their destination at the same time.”

“Similarly, gravitationally lensed supernova images can be seen by astronomers over days, weeks, or even years. By measuring the differences in the times that supernova images are visible, we can measure the history of the expansion rate of the universe, known as the Hubble constant, which is a major challenge in cosmology today. The catch is that these multiply imaged supernovae are very rare: less than a dozen have been detected so far.”

NASA's Webb Spots Second Lensed Supernova in Distant Galaxy

Left: In 2016 NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted a multiply imaged supernova, nicknamed Supernova Requiem, in a distant galaxy lensed by the intervening galaxy cluster MACS J0138. Three images of the supernova can be seen; the fourth image is expected to arrive in 2035. In this near-infrared image, light at 1.05 microns is represented in blue, and 1.60 microns is orange. Right: In November 2023, the NASA James Webb Space Telescope identified a second multiply imaged supernova in the same galaxy using its NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument. It is the first known system to produce more than one multiply-imaged supernova. Download the full-resolution side-by-side image. Hubble image credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Steve A. Rodney (University of South Carolina) and Gabriel Brammer (Cosmic Dawn Center/Niels Bohr Institute/University of Copenhagen); JWST image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Justin Pierel (STScI) and Andrew Newman (Carnegie Institution for Science).

“Within this small club, the 2016 supernova in MRG-M0138, named Requiem, stands out for several reasons. First, it is 10 billion light-years away. Second, the supernova is likely of the same type (Ia ) used as a ‘standard candle’ to measure cosmic distances.”

“Third, the models predict that one of the supernova images will be so delayed in its path by the intense gravity of the cluster that it will not be visible to us until the middle of 2030. Unfortunately, because Requiem was not discovered until 2019 , long after it. disappeared from view, it was not possible to get enough data to measure the Hubble constant before.”

“Today we found a second gravitationally lensed supernova within the same galaxy as Requiem, which we call Supernova Encore. Encore was discovered serendipitously, and we are now actively following the ongoing supernova with a discretionary time-critical director program. “

“Using these Webb images, we will measure and confirm the Hubble constant based on this multiply-imaged supernova. Encore is confirmed to be a standard candle or type Ia supernova, making Encore and Requiem the most distant pair of standard-candle supernova. ‘sibling’ discovered.””

“Supernovae are often unpredictable, but in this case, we know when and where to look to see the final manifestations of Requiem and Encore. Infrared observations around 2035 will catch the their last hurray and will provide a new and accurate measurement of the Hubble constant.”

Provided by the Space Telescope Science Institute

Citation: Webb sees second lensed supernova in distant galaxy (2023, December 21) Retrieved December 21, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-12-webb-lensed-supernova-distant-galaxy .html

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