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News Release 52 of 65

May 13, 1999 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1999-18

Natural Lenses in Space Stretch Hubble's View of the Universe

May 13, 1999: A Hubble telescope survey of the sky has uncovered exotic patterns, rings, arcs, and crosses that are all mirages produced by a gravitational lens, nature's equivalent of having a giant magnifying glass in space.

A gravitational lens is created when the gravity of a massive foreground object, such as a galaxy or a black hole, bends the light coming from a far more distant galaxy directly behind it. This "gravitational muscle" focuses the light to give multiple or distorted images of the background object as seen by the observer. Shown are 10 examples from the survey.

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Credit: Kavan Ratnatunga (Carnegie Mellon Univ.) and NASA