eso9719 — Science Release
Hints About Dark, Light-Bending Matter in the Distant Universe
25 July 1997: About 20 cases of gravitationally lensed (GL) quasars are known. This special physical effect, also known as a cosmic mirage, occurs when the rays of light of a distant quasar on their way to us pass near a massive object, for instance a galaxy. As a result, two or more images of the same quasar will be seen near each other. This phenomenon is described in more detail in the Appendix. A new study by a group of three European astronomers, headed by Frederic Courbin ( Institut d'Astrophysique, Universite de Liege, Belgium, and Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France) , has led to the discovery of the object responsible for the double images of a remote quasar in the gravitational lens HE 1104-1805 . The investigation is based on infrared observations at the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile and the `lensing system' turns out to be a distant, massive galaxy. Nevertheless, the geometry of the object is unusual and an additional gravitational lens of `dark' (invisible) matter may possibly be involved.