An individual star at redshift 1.5 extremely magnified by a galaxy-cluster lens Academic Article uri icon


  • Galaxy-cluster gravitational lenses can magnify background galaxies by a factor of up to ~50. An individual well-aligned background star, however, could potentially become much more highly magnified. Here we report an image of a star (dubbed "MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1 (LS1)") at redshift z=1.49 magnified by >2000. We measure fluctuations in the star's flux arising from microlensing by intracluster stars and compact objects, whose effective Einstein radii should become exaggerated by a factor of ~100 by the cluster's potential. LS1's light curve is sensitive to the mass function of intracluster stars and compact objects and provides evidence about binary fractions as well as specific stellar evolution and supernova models, and against a high abundance of ~30 solar-mass primordial black holes. A second event, separated by 0.26" from LS1, likely corresponds to LS1's counterimage demagnified for multiple years by a ~3 solar-mass object in the cluster. Additional monitoring should test the hypothesis that dark matter consists of extremely light bosons.


publication date

  • January 1, 2017