, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 2269-2300
Date: 05 May 2010

Gravitational lensing by black holes

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We review the theoretical aspects of gravitational lensing by black holes, and discuss the perspectives for realistic observations. We will first treat lensing by spherically symmetric black holes, in which the formation of infinite sequences of higher order images emerges in the clearest way. We will then consider the effects of the spin of the black hole, with the formation of giant higher order caustics and multiple images. Finally, we will consider the perspectives for observations of black hole lensing, from the detection of secondary images of stellar sources and spots on the accretion disk to the interpretation of iron K-lines and direct imaging of the shadow of the black hole.