NASA and ESA A pair of stars orbiting each other nearly 7,000 light years from Earth have provided more evidence that Albert Einstein’s theory of general relatively is correct.
NASA and ESA
A pair of stars orbiting each other nearly 7,000 light years from Earth have provided more evidence that Albert Einstein’s theory of general relatively is correct.
Astronomers measured bursts of energy from a neutron star which is being orbited by a smaller white dwarf star.
The gravity created by the neutron star, which is a super dense spinning pulsar, created a wrinkle in the fabric of space time in a way predicted by Einstein in his famous theory in 1915.
The neutron star, which is just 12 miles across but weights twice as much as our own sun, has gravity that is 300 billion times stronger than that felt on the surface of Earth.
At the centre of this star, a billion tonnes of matter would be squeezed into an areas the size of a sugar cube.
This enormous gravitational force should create a distortion in space-time according to Einstein’s theory.
As the white dwarf – a glowing remnant of another dead star – orbits the neutron star they should create wrinkles that move out in space time known as gravitational waves.
Over time this causes the two stars to move closer together as these wrinkles send energy out into space.
Astronomers on Earth were able to use a global network of telescopes to measure this by timing radio bursts emitted from the neutron star, also known as a pulsar, over time.
“We thought this system might be extreme enough to show a breakdown in General Relativity, but instead, Einstein’s predictions held up quite well,” said Dr Paulo Freire, from the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Germany.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which explains gravity as a consequence of the curvature of space-time created by the presence of mass and energy, has withstood all tests since it was first published almost a century ago.
Physicists, however, believe it cannot explain all of the effects seen in the universe as it is not compatible with quantum theory, which is used to explain the forces that hold atoms and subatomic particles together.
Instead they have come up with other theories of gravity that they believe can be spotted in extremely strong gravitational fields that are too large to be found in our own solar system – much like the one they were observing.
Although the findings, which are published in the journal Science, failed to reveal any breakdown in Einstein’s theory, they have raised hopes that researchers might be able to directly detect gravitational waves.
“Our radio observations were so precise that we have already been able to measure a change in the orbital period of 8 millionths of a second per year, exactly what Einstein’s theory predicts,” states Paulo Freire, another member of the international team that carried out the study.
paulo freire, neutron star, David Cameron, albert einstein, white dwarf star <BR/>