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WHAT ARE DIFFRACTION SPIKES? Have you ever noticed that bright stars in your favorite space images have unique spikes around them? These are known as diffraction spikes. Diffraction spikes are patterns produced as light bends around the sharp edges of a telescope. While all stars can create these patterns, we only see spikes with the brightest stars when a telescope takes an image. For most reflecting telescopes, including Webb, diffraction spikes appear when light interacts with the primary mirror and struts that support the secondary mirror.

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