The Net Effect of Many Gravitational Fields on the Intensity of Celestial Light Sources.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
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This thesis investigates the lens-like action of the gravitational fields of celestial bodies, which can alter the apparent intensity of more distant sources. Previous work in this area has shown that the chance of an individual body being sufficiently well aligned with a source to cause a very large gravitational intensity change is small. The issue addressed in this study is the possibility of there being a significant total change in the intensity of a source due to the combined effects of the gravitational fields of all celestial bodies, and in particular, the potential impact on intensity distance measurements, that is, determination of the distances of celestial light sources by means of intensity comparisons. It is first shown that the problem can be treated in flat space by associating an appropriate index of refraction with gravitational fields. A wave approach is taken in deriving the total deflection of a ray by the field of a single point mass. A statistical analysis is then performed to determine the expression for the mean total change in the intensity of celestial light sources due to the combined fields of all intervening bodies.