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    Starry-Eyed Map (Honorable Mention)  


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Aliza Malz
Undergraduate Student

As a spider's web captures flies, the filaments of a caustic map can be used to observe elusive gravitational microlensing events of distant quasars passing behind massive galaxies. This image tells the tale of general relativity. Each elongated diamond shape is derived from a single massive object, such as a planet or a star, and they overlap as such objects would if a galaxy were flattened into two dimensions between where we stand observing it and where the quasar's light originated. The dots signify the identification by software of a simulated caustic crossing using a hundred randomly generated light curves of the quasar for an observation time of two years, with each color representing a different possible size of the quasar, going from the smallest sources in violet to the largest sources in red.


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The 2008 Art of Science Competition was made possible by a grant from the Moore-Hufstedler Fund.
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