An international team of astronomers, using NASA's Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.

This accomplishment opens new avenues for research, including a novel way to probe emission regions near supermassive black holes. It may even be possible to find other gravitational lenses with data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Stefan Larsson at the Oskar Klein Centre, Stockholm university, is one of the researchers at the team.

The sky seen with the Fermi "Large Area Telescope" (LAT). Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
The sky seen with the Fermi "Large Area Telescope" (LAT). Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

 

More information and illustrations:

http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/january/nasas-fermi-makes-first-gamma-ray-study-of-a-gravitational-lens

http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.0548