Strong gravitational lensing provides a powerful probe of the physical properties of quasars and their host galaxies. A high fraction of the most luminous high-redshift quasars was predicted to be lensed due to magnification bias. However, no multiple imaged quasar was found at z > 5 in previous surveys. We report the discovery of J043947.08+163415.7, a strongly lensed quasar at z = 6.51, the first such object detected at the epoch of reionization, and the brightest quasar yet known at z > 5. High-resolution Hubble Space Telescope imaging reveals a multiple imaged system with a maximum image separation θ ∼ 0.″2, best explained by a model of three quasar images lensed by a low-luminosity galaxy at z ∼ 0.7, with a magnification factor of ∼50. The existence of this source suggests that a significant population of strongly lensed, high-redshift quasars could have been missed by previous surveys, as standard color selection techniques would fail when the quasar color is contaminated by the lensing galaxy.
- gravitational lensing: strong
- quasars: individual (J0439+1634)
- quasars: supermassive black holes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science