One of the peculiarities of the universe that got me started was the fact that as many as 85% of the star images we see are double images.† This seemed strange to me.† Of course, some could be actual double star systems (binary stars), but it seemed unlikely to me that so many double star systems should exist.† I began to investigate by viewing various star images from photographic plates of star fields.† I soon discovered a very interesting finding.† For many, if not most, of the double star images observed, there appeared to be a distant star directly in line with the two images.† The following star fields illustrate this.
This is just what you would expect from the gravity lens effect, except that the deflection is much larger than could be expected from Einsteinís equation for the deflection of light by the sun.
Undaunted, I continued my investigation (the mind is a wonderful thing when allowed to wander). To my surprise, I found examples of what I call the pivotal star effect. A few examples are shown below:
Are these effects real, or simply chance?† I donít know, but if they are real then we are completely out of the realm of the puny deflection of light by the sun. I have tried to find other examples using a computer and star catalogs, but there are too many possibilities to be certain.† Several problems include:
∑ The alignments need not be perfect due to the possibility of proper motion of any images involved,
∑ The angular displacements on the star fields available to me cannot be determined because the scale of the images is unknown.
I believe that these images, of which many more can be found, are real and demonstrate that the deflection of light by high-gravity objects is much greater than previously thought. See Deflection Correction. and Double Stars
But is this reasonable?† Indeed, it is.† Einstein believed that we could never observe the deflection of light in outer space, and he wanted a situation which could be demonstrated by experiment to prove his point, so he chose the deflection of light by the sun as his showcase test.† To solve his equations of Relativity for this one case, he made many simplifying assumptions, including throwing out terms which did not fit his earth-sun scenario and second-order effects.† The result was his famous expression for the deflection of light by the sunó4GM/rc2 where G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the sun, c is the speed of light and r is the distance a light path is from the sun, in solar radii (sometimes called the impact parameter).
But Einstein made a small mistake. He based his knowledge that light would be deflected by the sun because light loses velocity in a gravitational field.† And since gravitational attraction is a linear function from the source (1/R) he naturally assumed that the reduction in velocity would decrease by the same factor. (That is the 1/R term in his equation for the deflection of light by the sun.))
†But Dr. Shapiroís experiments show that the reduction in light velocity by gravity is a logarithmic function (1/ln(R)). The effect is that light is deflected substantially more than previously thought. Se the section on Deflection Correction om this website for more details.
During eclipse observations, deflection measurements are made for as many stars as possible. To normalize the results, the measured deflection is divided by the distance of the image from the sun (in solar radii), giving the deflection expected if the image were at the limb of the sun.† For example, a star image located at ten solar radii would be expected to have a deflection of 1.75/10, or 0.175 arc seconds. By the equation above, the actual deflection to be expected at this distance is 0.216 arc seconds. Similarly, the computed displacement at 5 and 15 solar radii is 0.400 and 0.152 arc seconds as compared to Einsteinís prediction of 0.350 and 0.117 arc seconds. This could readily explain the actual observations, which are systematically greater than Einsteinís prediction, as illustrated below.
Results from eclipse experiments in 1922 and 1929. The dashed line is Einsteinís prediction, while the dot-dashed line is a least-squared fit of the actual data.
It would certainly seem that the deflection of light by objects in deep space is much larger than previously believed, and that probably the multiple star images illustrated previously are real!
Astronomers believe they have found numerous double star images caused by the gravity lens effect, and pictures of them can be easily found on the internet. But all of these assume very small deflections, based on Einsteinís simple equation. I hope I have given enough fodder to feed the concept that the deflection of light in deep space is larger than that.† But now I turn to a topic that, to my knowledge, has never been considered by astronomers.† That is, if one object in space can create two images due to gravitational lensing, then two objects should be able to create four images; three objects can create eight images, and so on. The following figure illustrates the concept.
Illustrating how if there are three objects in line with a distant star (I call them gravicons), then there are fifteen distinct light paths to the observer, who can potentially see fifteen distinct images when only four object are real (24 Ė 1).
The possibilities are limitless.† Suppose there were eight objects in the proper alignment (remember, itís a big universe out there).† Then we could potentially see 255 images!† Twenty objects present the possibility of seeing over a million images when only twenty are real!
But hold on.† We have only been dealing with single star images.† But suppose that the distant star is really a field of stars.† That field could be imaged many times, appearing as a large cluster of images, when in fact most of the images are mirages.† It seems likely that much of what we observe in the night sky are false imagesónot really there.† No longer can we point our telescopes at a star and feel confident that what we see is real, and is really where we thought it was!
But does this make sense? You bet it does. The following figures show representative light curves for Supernova type 1A
Light curves for representive type 1A supernova.
Is it a stretch to suggest that these are all observations of the same supernova? I donít think so. To me it is clear evidence that much of what we see in the night sky are optical illusions.† The sheer number of apparent duplicate images of this supernova surprises even me.† It suggests that hardly any of the star and galaxy images we see are real, and the known universe must be far less populated than appears.†
A typical star field.† It is probable that most of these images are mirages; false images due to multiple imaging caused by gravity
∑ Many, if not most, of the star images we see are not there Ė they are mirages, or optical illusions caused by the deflection of light by highly gravitational objects.
∑ The deflection of light by gravity in outer space is much larger than previously thought when you incorporate the Shapiro effect into the equation for light deflection.