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Stargazing What is Gravitational lensing?

  1. Aug 7, 2017 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2017 #2


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    In simplified terms, Einstein stated that gravity would bend space, so even light would follow the curved path near a massive object. For an observer, far away, it appears as if the light waves bend.
  4. Aug 7, 2017 #3
    how could it be so sure that the light is bent? because the observer can see it straightly where the light comes from(telescope or something).
    Only when its seen laterally or in sidewise view it is possible to assure that light is bent.!!
  5. Aug 7, 2017 #4
  6. Aug 7, 2017 #5


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    I'm not usually fond of going just with Wikipedia, but they have a nice animation of what something passing through the "lens" might look like. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_lens
  7. Aug 7, 2017 #6


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    So this is my attempt at sketching out what is happening. I have greatly exaggerated the effect. As the light passes near a massive object, which has distorted the space, the light follows a curved path, near it then continues on. An observer would see images on either side of the front massive object.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  8. Aug 7, 2017 #7


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    We can compare the apparent relative position of stars in the sky as a massive object (such as the Sun) passes near our line of sight to the star. As the massive object comes very close to our LOS, the apparent position of the star changes slightly as the light is bent. The measured change in the apparent position matches predictions by GR.
  9. Aug 7, 2017 #8
  10. Aug 18, 2017 at 8:01 PM #9
    I've just had a little experience with it, since I did a little undergraduate research semester on it. But one thing that's not been mentioned, and what excites me the most about it, is that it enables an observer to actually observe behind an occulting galaxy. Just from line of sight considerations, it might be natural to assume that when a galaxy occults another galaxy from view, the more distant object is unobservable.

    Not so due to the the effects of gravitational lensing.

    The nearer galaxy acts as a lens to send information from the more distant galaxy to the observer. Quite amazing, really.
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