Gravitational Lensing Black Hole Blue

Unlike an optical lens, a gravitational lens produces a maximum deflection of light that passes closest to its center, and a minimum deflection of light that travels furthest from its center. Consequently, a gravitational lens has no single focal point, but a focal line. The term “lens” in the context of gravitational light deflection was first used by O. J. Lodge, who remarked that it is “not permissible to say that the solar gravitational field acts like a lens, for it has no focal length”. If the (light) source, the massive lensing object, and the observer lie in a straight line, the original light source will appear as a ring around the massive lensing object. If there is any misalignment, the observer will see an arc segment instead. This phenomenon was first mentioned in 1924 by the St. Petersburg physicist Orest Chwolson, and quantified by Albert Einstein in 1936. It is usually referred to in the literature as an Einstein ring, since Chwolson did not concern himself with the flux or radius of the ring image. More commonly, where the lensing mass is complex (such as a galaxy group or cluster) and does not cause a spherical distortion of spacetime, the source will resemble partial arcs scattered around the lens. The observer may then see multiple distorted images of the same source; the number and shape of these depending upon the relative positions of the source, lens, and observer, and the shape of the gravitational well of the lensing object.

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