Astronomers have spotted a star dancing around a massive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way galaxy — and they said it proves Einstein was right.
The star is the first ever caught circling the enormous black hole in the middle of our galaxy, scientists said.
It was tracked through the massive European Southern Observatory in the Chilean desert — and its orbit is shaped like a rosette as opposed to an ellipse, which is what Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity would suggest, CNN said in a report Thursday.
Instead, the rosette orbit proves that Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was on the mark, astronomers said.
“Einstein’s general relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian gravity, but precess towards in the plane of motion,” Reinhard Genzel, director of the Max Planch Institute for Extraterrestial Physics in Germany, said in a statement, CNN reported.
Scientists first identified the same rosette pattern in Mercury’s orbit around the sun, Genzel said.
Now, the newly observed star dancing around an area in the center of the Milky Way that scientists named “Sagittarius A” “strengthens the evidence” that it is a supermassive black hole with about 4 million times the mass of the sun and 26,000 light-years away.
The star, identified as S2, passes closest to the black hole, within 20 billion kilometers.
While orbits aren’t perfect, the star orbiting the black hole changes its approach with each orbit, creating the rosette pattern, CNN said. Einstein’s theory of relativity predicts how much the orbit changes with each pass.
“If we are lucky, we might capture stars close enough that they actually feel the rotation, the spin, of the black hole,” Andreas Eckart, co-author of the findings and lead scientist at Cologne University in Germany, told the network. “That would be again a completely different level of testing relativity.”