Racing star could prove Einstein theory

2012-10-05 08:29
Astronomers have found evidence of a star racing tightly around the monstrous black hole at the heart of our galaxy. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Astronomers have found evidence of a star racing tightly around the monstrous black hole at the heart of our galaxy. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Astronomy
    Learn about famous astronomers, the solar system, stars, and other aspects of astronomy Was R174.95 Now R148.71
    buy now
Los Angeles - US astronomers have found evidence of a star racing tightly around the monstrous black hole at the heart of our galaxy - the closest ever found near the matter-sucking body.

The scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, said the discovery will help them test Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity and his predictions of how black holes warp space and time.

The star, S0-102, is orbiting the black hole every 11-and-a-half Earth years, much faster than the 60 years or longer orbit of most of the stars around the Milky Way's black hole centre.

This is only the second star discovered with such a short orbit - the other, S0-2, orbits the black hole every 16 years - thanks to improved imaging techniques.

Lead researcher Andrea Ghez, who has been observing the black hole since she discovered it in 1998, said the second data point is crucial for their research.

Wobbles


"It is the tango of S0-102 and S0-2 that will reveal the true geometry of space and time near a black hole for the first time," she said in a statement. "This measurement cannot be done with one star alone."

Like the Earth and other planets, both stars have elliptical orbits - meaning they regularly move closer and further from the black hole.

Ghez and her team at UCLA hope to see evidence of little wobbles in the orbit when the stars move closer, which would show they are being affected by the curvature of space time, as predicted by Einstein's theory.

Ghez added it was "phenomenal" to find two stars so close to the black hole.

"This should not be a neighbourhood where stars feel particularly welcome," she said.

Black holes, which are what is left when a massive star dies and collapses in on itself, have a gravitational force so strong that even light cannot escape.

They cannot be seen directly, and so are observed through their influence on the things around them.

"Now it's a whole new ballgame," Ghez said, adding that the team's investigations could open a new window into understanding black holes and how the universe evolves.

The research will be published in Friday's issue of the US journal Science.
Read more on:    astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
15 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Kraaifontein 13:59 PM
Road name: N1

ACCIDENT at the Okavango Road exit - DELAYS both ways

Stikland 12:25 PM
Road name: Strand Road Eastbound

TRUCK CRASH between La Belle Road and the R300 Highway

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.