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Four First Glimpses

When the stars align, the results can be nothing short of spectacular. On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel shows us an “Einstein ring” photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. This celestial halo surrounds a massive red galaxy, and is in fact light from a much more distant galaxy focused by gravity. Ethan explains, “gravity will bend spacetime, forcing light into a curved path. If a very distant galaxy is properly lined-up with us and a less distant—but very massive—galaxy, its light will not only be bent into a ring if the alignment is perfect, but its light will be greatly magnified, making a dim galaxy appear very bright.” The newly-imaged LRG 3-757 “makes about 80% of a full ring: a cosmic horseshoe.” A never-before-seen galaxy is also visible on Greg Laden’s Blog: GN-108036. Greg says this galaxy produces stars “at the rate of about 100 per year. In contract, the Mikly Way (our galaxy), even though it is 100 times bigger in mass than GN-108036, produces about 30 new stars per year.” Amazingly, we are seeing this galaxy as it existed only 750 million years after the big bang. Greg also has the first low-altitude images of the massive asteroid Vesta, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. And on Starts With a Bang, Ethan covers Kepler’s discovery of the first exoplanet smaller than Earth, whose very hot year is shorter than a week.

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