Chandra image of the Cloverleaf quasar
Credit: G. Chartas et al., 2004, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 606, pg. 78

Splitting Images

Matter bends space, causing strange optical illusions. The image above is one such illusion, a single distant active galaxy split into 4 separate images by a large distribution of mass lying between us and the active galaxy. This image was obtained by the Chandra X-ray Observatory - Chandra's superb spatial resolving power is needed to distinguish the four separate components, labelled A through D in the image above. Strangely enough the individual components are not of equal brightness. Astronomers believe that the differences in brightness between the components in the X-ray image and at other wavelengths may be due to a "microlensing" event, caused by a small body (like a star, or star cluster) passing between the quasar and the observer at earth.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:11:21 EDT