News & AnalysisAstronomy

Peering Back 13 Billion Years, Through a Gravitational Lens

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Science  29 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6029, pp. 522
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6029.522

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Astronomers have exploited an effect known as gravitational lensing, in which the gravity of an object between another object and Earth bends light, to study sources of light that otherwise would have been too faint to see and also estimate the mass of galaxy clusters causing the lensing. These studies have helped researchers discover distant galaxies, find exoplanets, and study the structure of the universe. Now, a team of researchers has made the first direct detection of gravitational lensing of cosmic microwave background radiation, the faint afterglow of the big bang that suffuses the universe.