Sunday, March 27, 2005

Gravitational lensing

This astrophotograph captures a phenomenon that very graphically demonstrates Einstein's insight that gravity can bend the path of light. What looks like four stars (or galactic nuclei) in the picture are actually four separate virtual images of the same quasar, which is located far behind the galaxy whose faint image is all around the four quasar images. The intense gravity in the dense core of the galaxy acts like a gigantic lens that just happens to be directly between us and the distant quasar. Result: these four images of the quasar. You can read all about it here, with pointers to more information.

No comments:

Post a Comment