The Astronomy Picture Of The Day for today is Einstein’s Cross. This is really a fascinating visual. The explanation is that there are not really four objects but rather one that appears as four due to gravitational lensing.
I can understand and accept the notion of lensing when it produces rings or crescent patterns. That truly does make sense, it patterns after what we can observe in daily life when light is refracted. But when we take a single object and make it appear as multiple, we are dealing with prisms or reflection in our world here. In the stellar world it would likewise require some form of pattern in the shaping of the light, it is quite distinct from what is a general distortion caused by the massiveness of an object.
I will tend to think that this truly is four distinct objects and leave, for now, the answer to why/how they exist as undefined.
For now I’ll just look, admire the beauty and recite “The Learned Astronomer“.