A team of scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile recently completed a 26 year study to determine what happens when a star goes through a supermassive black hole. The study provided astronomers with a new proof of the theory of relativity proposed by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago.
In May of this year, astronomers were able to follow the movement of a star, S2, when it was moving less than 20 billion kilometers from a black hole, moving at a speed of just over 25 million kilometers per hour. To observe the phenomenon, they used the Very Large Telescope, installed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
The data obtained from the position and velocity of the star, along with other observations made with other instruments, were compared with predictions of Newton’s gravity, General Relativity and other theories about gravity. The conclusion, ESO said in a statement, points out that “the new results do not agree with Newton’s prognostics and fit neatly with those of the General Theory of Relativity.”
The theory proposed by Einstein says that gravity is the result of the curvature of the space-time fabric, created by the presence of mass and energy (E = mc2). Although the theory of relativity has already been proven in other experiments, it is the first time that the European Observatory of the South reveals the effects predicted by the equation of the physicist. At the same time, it is the first time the theory is confirmed so close to a supermassive black hole.
In an article published in Astronomy & Astrophysics last Thursday ( 26 ), the researchers detailed a feature of general relativity known as gravitational redshift. This name occurs because as light escapes from a region with a strong gravitational field, its waves are stretched, making the light redder. The observations of the Very Large Telescope have shown that the light of the star S2 has been shifted to the red by the amount predicted by the theory of general relativity. Check below the video provided by ESO from his YouTube channel :
“More than a hundred years since he published his document on the predictions of general relativity, it was once again demonstrated that Einstein was right in a much more extreme laboratory than he could have imagined,” ESO said in a statement.