Galaxies as Gravitational Lenses

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Science  01 Dec 1967:
Vol. 158, Issue 3805, pp. 1176-1178
DOI: 10.1126/science.158.3805.1176


The probability that a galaxy gathers light from another remote galaxy, and deflects and focuses it toward an observer on Earth, is calculated according to various cosmologic models. I pose the question of whether an object called a quasar is a single, intrinsically luminous entity or the result of accidental alignment, along the line of sight, of two normal galaxies, the more distant of which has its light amplified by the gravitational-lens effect of the nearer galaxy. If galaxies are distributed at random in the universe, the former alternative is true. But, if we assume that most galaxies exist in pairs, we can find about 30 galaxies occurring exactly one behind the other in such a way as to enable amplification of the order of 50. This model explains also the variations in intensity in quasars, but fails to explain others of their observed properties.