An AI has discovered twelve new Einstein crosses in the observation data of the Gaia Space Telescope. These visual evidences of relativity offer unique possibilities for studying the expansion of the universe and dark matter.
Astronomers from the European Space Agency (ESA) have discovered 12 new Einstein crosses using the Gaia Space Telescope. Einstein crosses are gravitational lenses in which the light of distant galaxy nuclei (quasars) is curved so strongly by massive objects in the foreground that from our point of view several images are created.
The first prediction of this visual evidence of relativity was already made in 1912, the first discovery of an Einstein cross in space took place in 1985. So far, astronomy has been able to discover 50 different Einstein crosses, so the new discovery has increased their known number by almost a quarter.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) investigating the data
According to the work published on the preprint server arXiv.org, which will soon be published in the Astrophysical Journal, the astronomers have evaluated the records of the space telescope using artificial intelligence (AI) for their new discovery. Data from the Wise (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) space telescope was then used to confirm the possible Einstein crosses.
According to the scientists, the discoveries show the high importance of instruments such as Gaia for astronomy. The recently discovered Einstein Crosses are unique ways to study the expansion of the universe and dark matter.
More Einstein crosses likely
Since the launch of the mission in 2013, the Gaia space telescope has been permanently photographing space with a gigapixel camera. Parallax measurement on the telescope’s path around the sun makes it possible to determine precisely the position of countless stars and their relative motion. The now discovered Einstein crosses were found using the Gaia Data Release 2 (EDR2) collection. The Gaia Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) collection was recently released. It is the most accurate map of the Milky Way with over 1.8 billion celestial bodies. An analysis of the EDR3 collection is therefore likely to find many more Einstein crosses.