Einstein’s theory of general relativity had revolutionized physics forever, in a time when humanity had far fewer tools for exploring the world (about a century ago). Isaac Newton described gravity as an invisible force that made objects attract each other, but Einstein stated that things are more complicated than that: gravity acts like warping of spacetime. The more massive an object is, the more it warps the spacetime around it.
Space and time have to be perceived as a whole, considering that one cannot exist without another. Astronomers already knew that the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A from the center of our Milky Way galaxy has several stars orbiting around it, but one specific star captured their attention.
The General Theory of Relativity proven right again
Researchers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have come to the conclusion that Einstein was right after they had been studying the S2 star for 27 years and took 330 measurements of its position and velocity. They had been using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which is located in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
Even though the S2 star is about four times as far from its black hole as Pluto is from our Sun, the black hole still makes the cosmic object rotate around it.
Stefan Gillessen from the the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and a co-author of the study, declared:
“After following the star in its orbit for over two and a half decades, our exquisite measurements robustly detect S2’s Schwarzschild precession in its path around Sagittarius A*,”
A Schwarzchild precession is a type of orbit presented in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It describes one cosmic object drift around another in an orbit “shaped like a rosette” because of the very strong gravitational pull and bending of spacetime.
The new study was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.