General, Research, Technology

A star dance next to a black hole proved Einstein's right

Albert Einstein was right again: For the first time, observations using the Large Southern Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) VLT showed that a star that rotates around a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy moves as predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity (GR). At the same time, its orbit has the form of a “socket”, rather than an ellipse, as predicted by Newton's theory of gravity. The supermassive black hole Sagittarius A * is located in the center of the Milky Way at a distance of 26 thousand light years from Earth and is surrounded by a hot radio-emitting gas cloud. Since Sagittarius A * is currently “hibernated” and does not absorb matter, it does not throw out energy and red-hot matter - jets. For this reason, a black hole is not visible to most telescopes, and dozens of stars and large clouds of gas are located next to it. For the past 27 years, astronomers have observed the S2 star as it moves around a black hole at a distance of less than 20 billion kilometers. In this case, S2 does not rotate in a circular orbit, but processes - this means that the location of the point closest to the black hole changes with each revolution of the star. As a result of this trajectory, the orbit S2 repeats the shape of the “outlet”.

The star S2’s orbit moves as Einstein’s GR predicted.

Albert Einstein was one of the first physicists in the world who decided to build a theory based on new experimental data.

At the end of December 2019, astronomers reported thatseveral stars that revolve around the supermassive black hole of Sagittarius A *, led them to think that a wormhole could be located next to the black hole. However, today we are talking about a star called S2, which is located closest to this space monster. Read more about this in our material. At the same time, observations established that the maximum distance at which a star approached a black hole - in May 2018 - was at least 20 billion kilometers, and the rotation speed reached about 25 million kilometers per hour. At the same time, only now, scientists were able to confirm that S2 is moving according to Einstein's GR.

During movement, S2 accelerates to 10% ofspeed of light. A year on the surface of this star lasts 9.9 Earth years, and it completes a full orbit in 16 years. Experts also found that when a star comes as close to a black hole as possible, it capable of accelerating to 3% of the speed of light. And this is very, very fast.

The authors of a new study recall that thisthe effect was first observed on the example of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun. Moreover, the discovery confirmed that the mass of Sagittarius A * is four million times greater than the sun. However, since S2 is not the only star located near Sagittarius A *, scientists have developed a computer simulation of the orbits of stars that rotate next to a black hole in the center of our galaxy. Just take a look at the image below:

Looks like a work of art

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What is the "Dance of the Star"

As the authors of a study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics write, the General theory of relativity predicts that the connected orbits of one object around another are not closedas in the Newtonian theory of gravity, andprecession - this means that the position of the point of its smallest distance from the supermassive black hole changes with a new turn - each subsequent turn of the star’s orbit rotates with respect to the previous one at a certain angle. Together, all these turns form something similar to a “socket” or flower, and the movement of a star around a space monster resembles a dance.

This effect, known as the “Schwarzschild precession”, has never been measured before for a star located close to a supermassive black hole.

According to CNN during the course of the study,while scientists observed S2 behavior, they compiled about 330 estimates of the speed and position of the star using just a few VLT telescope instruments. Let me remind you that for the first time this famous effect was observed on the example of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun, which until now was the first experimental confirmation of the general theory of relativity.

S2 describes an orbit shaped like a flower

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The authors of the study hope that in the future, with the help of the Extremely Large Telescope ESO (ELT), they will be able to see even more inconspicuous stars that rotate even closer to the black hole.

With any luck, we can find stars that are very close to Sagittarius A *. In the future, this will determine the rotation parameters of such stars, or spin.

Andreas Eckart from the University of Cologne.

In this case, astronomers will know twoThe main parameters are mass and spin. They determine the behavior of a supermassive black hole and the properties of space-time around it. Thus, a completely different level of testing the theory of relativity awaits us, so we wish the researchers good luck.