Imagine a galaxy, behind another galaxy. Think you won’t see it? Think again. The mass of the galaxy in front distorts spacetime, causing the light of the galaxy behind to bend around it. The background galaxy will appear distorted, magnified, and may even be imaged multiple times - the foreground galaxy is acting as a lens. This phenomenon, “gravitational lensing”, has become one of the most powerful tools to study the Universe. In this talk, I will discuss how gravitational lensing works, and how we can use it to find exoplanets, to study the properties of dark matter, and to identify the most distant galaxies.
Anja von der Linden is an observational cosmologist in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Stony Brook. Her main research focus are clusters of galaxies, their gravitational lensing signal, and their use as probes of cosmology. She received her PhD in Astrophysics from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich, Germany, and was a Tycho Brahe fellow at Stanford University, California, and the Dark Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, before joining the Stony Brook faculty in 2015.