A star passed by the greatest black hole in our galaxy, and it’s motion, observed by scientists present the effects of the general relativity, as envisioned by Albert Einstein.
Named Sagittarius A*, the humongous black hole sits in the very heart of the galaxy, and it orbited by many stars. With a mass four times bigger than that of the sun, its gravitational pull is the strongest in all of the Milky Way. It has been observed before as it destroys any object which ventures to close. Its impressive features make it the perfect test subject for Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The center of the Milky Way has been observed for more than 26 years, by using data and devices from the European Southern Observatory. A new study that explains the discoveries in depth has been published at the ESO conference on July 26, offering more details on how the phenomenon of relativity works. Using the GRAVITY, SINFONY and NACO instruments available at ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile, scientists followed the S2 star, part of a fast-moving group which orbits the supermassive black hole.
The researchers spotted the star moving very close to the black hole in May 2018, moving with an incredible speed of 15.5 million mph (or 25 million kilometers/hour). By analyzing and comparing data taken from GRAVITY and SINFONY with previous data, the scientist discovered that the light emitted by the star warped according to the general relativity’s description of how gravity bends space-time.
The light of the star was stretched by the supermassive black hole and the change in wavelength is consistent with Einstein’s theory, according to the study. It was also noted that the new data contradicts what was previously predicted by the Newtonian theory of gravity.
S2 will be further studied in order to observe the effects of the black hole in detail, and further explore how its orbit was affected.