First proposed a century ago, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity passes another test

Astronomers just proved that Einstein’s theory of general relativity is still, in fact, correct. Buzz60

First proposed a century ago, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity passes another test

First proposed a century ago, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity got yet another boost this week, a new study suggests, thanks to giant telescopes that peered at a huge black hole at the heart of our galaxy.

Astronomers noticed the black hole distorted light waves from a nearby star in a specific way that agrees with Einstein’s theory. Just as the legendary scientist predicted in 1915, the star’s light energy decreased due to the black hole’s extreme gravity.

Einstein’s general relativity theory describes the effects of matter on the movement of stars, and more specifically, the effects of a black hole on the stars surrounding it.

At the center of our galaxy, a group of stars spin around the black hole at mind-boggling speeds of over 15 million mph. This provides “a perfect laboratory in which to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity,” according to France’s National Center for Scientific Research.

The discovery was led by Reinhard Genzel of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. It was published Thursday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“We have been preparing intensely for this event over several years,” Genzel said, “as we wanted to make the most of this unique opportunity to observe general relativistic effects.”

UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez, who is part of another group of scientists who also track the black hole, told Science magazine that the discovery is “really exciting. This is such an amazing observation.” She added that it’s “a direct test (of relativity) that we’ve both been preparing for for years.”

These results are also a major breakthrough toward better understanding the effects of intense gravitational fields, France’s National Center for Scientific Research said.

Scientists know the theory doesn’t explain everything about the universe, so they keep testing it. So far, nobody has been able to overthrow it.

This finding “is really the opening episode,” said Clifford Will, a University of Florida physicist who was not part of this research. “The future, I think, is going to be very exciting.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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