Orbs are one of the most frequently observed of all potentially paranormal phenomena. They have been asociated with almost every field of research, however they are most commonly known as spirit orbs. Unlike many paranormal phenomena, orbs are not shy about appearing on film and are frequently photographed.

What Are Orbs?

An orb is simply an unexplained ball of light. Orbs vary tremendously in size, shape and brilliance. Sometimes they occur singly, at others they appear in a group. Although orbs are sometimes seen by the eye they are most often discovered afterwards when reviewing photographs.

Photographic Artefacts

Most so called spirit orb photos are probably artefacts resulting from the photographic process. It's very easy for reflections to appear as dots of light.

A particular problem is small particles such as pollen or dust illuminated by a flash. A small particle close to the lens can produce a very ghostly looking orb on the final photo. This problem apears to be more prevalent on digital cameras with small CCDs, especially when using a flash.

That said, there are some orb photos that do not appear to be side-effects of the photographic process. So what are they?

Spirit Orbs

The most popular theory of orbs is that they somehow encapsulate the energy of spirits or ghosts. They seem to occur more often at places with a reputation for being haunted - although skeptics point out that those with an interest in the paranormal are more likely to take a large number of flash photographs in such places.

One theory is that orb photographs are the souls of the dead caught on camera. This idea is supported by the fact that orbs are often reported as having been seen during Near Death Experiences (NDE).

Psychic Images

Another hypothesis is that orbs are actually the manifestation of some sort of psychic power, perhaps akin to an aura. The suggestion is that some form of psychic energy is being generated which is being picked up by the camera.

Supernatural Creatures

Could orbs be capturing the presence of supernatural creatures? Either beings we normally cannot see or, possibly, creatures that exist on another plane?

Various possibilities have been suggested for the identity of such beings, from angels to fairies.


Connections have also been made between orbs and UFOs. Many UFO sightings are of the "ball of light" variety. Some of these bear a strong resemblence to the spirit orbs. Of course, this could simply be because they are both the result of the same type of photographic anomaly.

One interesting theory is that orbs represent a miniaturised form of technology somehow connected with alien craft. Or, perhaps, they may even be the aliens themselves.