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Unusual radio source MG1131+0456: a possible Einstein ring


We report the discovery of extremely unusual structure in the radio source MG1131 + 0456. In a radio map with sub~arc$econd resolution the object appears as an elliptical ring of emission accompanied by a pair of more compact sources, nearly diametrically opposed and offset 0.3 arc s to the south-west of the ring. There is a faint, slightly extended, optical counterpart. In its spectrum we detect a continuum but no emission lines; therefore the redshift of the counterpart is unknown. The radio morphology suggests that this source may be an example of an 'Einstein ring'1, a highly symmetric case of grayitational lensing in which the source is imaged into a ring. Other explanations that we consider are excluded by the data. Another possibility is that MG1131 +0456 represents a new type of (unlensed) astronomical object.

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Hewitt, J., Turner, E., Schneider, D. et al. Unusual radio source MG1131+0456: a possible Einstein ring. Nature 333, 537–540 (1988).

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