A group of computer scientists from the University of California, Irvine has made an attempt to shed light on the nature of an enigmatic object featured in "Salvator Mundi", a famous painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that fetched $450.3 million at an auction in 2017, Live Science reports.
The paper in question focuses on an orb-like object the depiction of Jesus Christ in the painting holds, which appears to defy "the laws of optics".
"The orb held by Christ contains a few painted sparkles that look like inclusions within a solid sphere or crystal", the media outlet explains. "But a solid orb would magnify and invert the image of anything behind it due to the refraction of light, and the orb in the painting doesn't do that. Christ's robes appear undistorted behind the glass".
And while art historians argued about the orb’s nature, the authors of the new study postulate that the scene depicted in the painting can be re-created using a combination of a hollow glass sphere and a strong light source from overhead.
As the media outlet points out, only a preprint version of the team’s findings is currently available online, and the scientists appeared reluctant to comment on their work which is now under review at a scientific journal.