Rare gravitational lensing warps light of distant supernova into four images

Images of SN Zwicky captured with the Zwicky Transient Facility (background), Very Large Telescope (top left) and W. M. Keck Observatory (top right). The resolving power of Keck Observatory’s NIRC2 instrument and adaptive optics system revealed the unusually bright supernova consisted of four images of the same explosion caused by extreme gravitational lensing. ( J. Johansson/ courtesy image)

Maunakea, Hawai’i – Astronomers have captured a bizarre image of a supernova, the powerful explosion of a star, whose light was so warped by the gravity of a galaxy that it appears as multiple images in the sky. This effect, known as gravitational lensing, occurs when the gravity of a dense object distorts and brightens the light of an object behind it.