Light and Gravitational Lensing By: Jimmy O'Hare

Over the past month or so, I chose to conduct my research mainly on light. I found information about the double slit experiment (Proving how light is both a particle and a wave), slowing down and stopping light with technology and crystals, and how light bends when it passes too close to a very dense object. As you could probably tell from the picture at the top, I chose to focus on bending light.

Why does light bend?

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity states that light is affected in the same way that matter is affected by gravity. Einstein came up with this improved theory after Newton's theory stated that gravity was a force where all objects that had mass pulled on all other objects with mass. This theory worked with most things, but didn't work with light because light has no mass. This prompted Einstein to come up with his theory of space-time, which was a working model for how light curves around other objects.

So why doesn't light bend as much as other objects?

Light is affected by gravity the same way that anything else is; it just travels faster than any other object, so gravity doesn't have as much time to affect it. Because light is affected by space-time, it can actually fall into orbit around incredibly dense objects like black holes; in fact, there is a name for the zone where light orbits above a black hole. This zone is called the photon sphere. In the below picture, try to spot the photon sphere; it is where the light makes up a purplish arc, a little bit above the event horizon of the black hole.

Below is a diagram of a black hole, showing where the photon sphere is (If you couldn't find it before)

Created By
Student Jimmy OHare

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