In previous blogs I've lamented that it would take incredibly large telescope arrays to try and see any details on planets orbiting nearby stars. Even space telescopes envisioned for the next 20-30 years from now could only tease out information about a planet by studying how its light fluctuates, and what colors of light it reflects or absorbs. But the planet will remain a dot of faint light in the largest imaginable telescopes.
However, astronomers have exploited "God's zoom lens" in space to see details in some a the farthest galaxies every detected. It's called a gravitational lens.
First predicted by Einstein's General Relativity, gravity warps space like a funhouse mirror. This result is that the gravity of a foreground galaxy will amplify - and distort - the light from a very distant background galaxy. When chance alignments do happen, astronomers can peruse the details of very distant galaxies that would be unreachable with conventional large telescopes.
You can simulate a gravitational lens by looking at Halogen desk lamp through the base of a wine glass. The curved glass is an analog to the warping of space. (It helps the experiment if you fill the glass with wine first, drink it, and proceed to make the observation.) The bulb will smear into bright arcs around the glass base.