Scientists Confirm Einstein’s Black Hole Theory

Posted: Jul 29 2018, 9:55am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Confirm Einstein’s Black Hole Theory
Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

For the first time, researchers directly tested Einstein’s theory of general relativity near a supermassive black hole.

One of Albert Einstein’s key predictions has passed a rigorous observational test. Thanks to ESO,’s Very Large Telescope, researchers were able to track a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near a supermassive black hole and confirmed that the star behaved as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Einstein proposed a general theory of relativity in 1915 and it predicted that light coming from a star would be stretched to longer wavelengths due to the extreme gravitational field of a black hole. As a result, the light will shift to the red end of the spectrum. This effect is known as gravitational redshift. Until now there has been no precise test of this theory on astronomical scales.

“This was the first time we could test directly Einstein’s theory of general relativity near a supermassive black hole.” Frank Eisenhauer, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute said in a statement.

To test the idea, researchers monitored the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The black hole lies 26 000 light-years away from Earth and is surrounded by a small group of stars orbiting around it at high speed. This extreme environment is a perfect place to explore gravitational physics as well as to test Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Using telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, researchers specifically observed the motion of a star near the supermassive black hole for more than 20 years. The star, called S2, stars passed very close to the black hole during May 2018. The star was at a distance of fewer than 20 billion kilometers from the black hole at its closest point and moved at a speed of 25 million kilometers per hour – almost three percent of the speed of light.

The event provided extremely precise measurements that astronomers needed to test Einstein's theory. The new measurements clearly revealed the effects predicted by the famous theory.

“This is the second time that we have observed the close passage of S2 around the black hole in our galactic center. But this time, because of much-improved instrumentation, we were able to observe the star with unprecedented resolution," said lead researcher Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. "We have been preparing intensely for this event over several years, as we wanted to make the most of this unique opportunity to observe general relativistic effects."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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