Monday, July 19, 2021

High-speed stars confirm relativity

General relativity tells us that light will be affected by gravity.  This so-called space-time curvature has just been observed in the distorted light of a star orbiting the Milky Way's own supermassive black hole (SMBH) - Sagittarius A*.

  The bending of light due to the presence of a massive object - where the massive object is blocking your path and reorienting you, like a lens - is known as a gravitational lens.

Light will be traveling at a constant speed along curved space - the midway or path has therefore not changed and therefore no energy is lost.  However, if the photon in the electromagnetic radiation moves away from the curved path, energy will be lost and the wavelength will increase - this is known as gravitational redshift.

  Using infrared observations from the Very Large Telescope in Chile, astronomers were able to follow a group of high-speed stars orbiting the SMBH - Sagittarius A * - and confirm the effects of gravitational redshift as predicted by Einstein's general relativity .  Located 26,000 light-years away, this region of the Milky Way has been observed for more than 20 years with the hope of observing the effects of gravity.  However, it wasn't until May of this year when a star known as S2, traveling in its 16-year orbit at a speed of 15.5 million mph (25 million km/h), came extremely close to Sagittarius A*.  This allowed astronomers to obtain the high-resolution data needed to observe changes in wavelength and verify that their motion actually showed the effects of general relativity.

  RSF - in perspective

  Gravity is an attractive force, but we need to remember that it is not an independent entity operating on its own.  This attractive force is a net force, an emergent property of that very predominant dynamic in the universe known as spin.  When something spins, you have external repulsive forces and internal attractive forces resulting from and dependent on the spin dynamics.  This internal gravitational force due to spin dynamics agrees with Einstein's general relativity - he just thinks about it from a different perspective, according to quantum gravity.  The effects of gravity on photon energy will therefore be the same as predicted by Einstein.

  This is the first time the effects of gravity have been observed around an SMBH and therefore not only proves Einstein right once again, but it also has huge implications for our understanding of gravity on the cosmological scale.

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