Astronomers were recently surprised to capture the rare image of a warped supernova in space.
According to a press release by Caltech, the supernova has been dubbed the “SN Zwicky.” It was first spotted during the largest supernova survey to date.
A supernova, or explosion of a star, isn’t all that uncommon, but this particular supernova was really something special due to a rare “warping” effect from a far-off galaxy.
The effect, known as gravitational lensing, is when the gravity of a dense object distorts and brightens the light of an object behind it.
According to ESA Hubble, Einstein actually predicated the cosmic phenomenon of gravitational lensing more than a century ago.
The light from the SN Zwicky supernova was so warped from the gravity of a different galaxy that it appeared as multiple images in the sky.
In the press release, Christoffer Fremling with Caltech said, “I was observing that night and was absolutely stunned when I saw the lensed image of SN Zwicky.”
As explained in the press release, “Astronomers have been observing the gravitational bending of light since 1919, just a few years after Einstein developed the theory, but the transient nature of supernovae makes events such as SN Zwicky, also known as SN 2022qmx, very hard to spot.”
Images of supernovas lensed into duplicate images are so rare that only a small handful have been found.
You can see more about the discovery in the video below, courtesy of Caltech:
Space is pretty incredible, isn’t it?