The behavior of a star that ventured close to the supermassive black hole of our galaxy has shown that Albert Einstein’s theory about gravity is correct.
The star was labeled “S2”, and after almost three decades of observation, its orbit was precisely tracked down.
Further analysis of its orbit revealed shocking proof of the general theory of relativity.
S2 orbits the supermassive black hole approximately once every 16 years. It has been under careful observation since 1992 by Earth’s most powerful telescopes to figure out its looping orbit ultimately.
Frank Eisenhauer from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics of Germany said:
“The precision we now have in measurements of the relative positions of the black hole and the star is comparable to watching a football game on the moon. Then you have to measure the size of the football to within of a few centimeters.”
Eisenhauer and his partners analyzed the data that was discovered and figured that the orbit of S2 isn’t following a “standard” path that can be determined using Newton’s basic theory of gravity.
It turned out that S2 swings around the black hole differently every orbit. The trace it makes resembles a daisy flower.
Eisenhauer said: “Normally, if you put a star in orbit, it moves along an ellipse, and the orbit closes.”
“But when the gravity is very strong, the ellipse moves from orbit to orbit and makes a rosette shape,” he added.
That is important since Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted the movement.
Einstein’s theory says how the black hole should be capable of distorting space-time around it, thus affecting the orbits of the nearby stars as well.
Such peculiarities are also present in our solar system. You might not have known that Mercury’s orbit is rosette-shaped rather than the traditional ellipse.