Researchers Use Keck to Help Challenge Einstein’s Famous Theory

July 25, 2019, 12:26 PM HST (Updated July 25, 2019, 1:11 PM)
×

Exploring planets orbiting nearby stars will be the next subject of the Astronomy Talk series.

Researchers at UCLA may be coming for Einstein’s famous General Relativity Theory after tracking a special star for nearly a quarter century to see how gravity behaves as the star orbits dangerously close to the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, according to a press release from Keck Observatory on Hawai‘i Island.

“Einstein’s right, at least for now,” said Andrea Ghez, a co-lead author of the research. “We can absolutely rule out Newton’s law of gravity. Our observations are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. However, his theory is definitely showing vulnerability. It cannot fully explain gravity inside a black hole, and at some point we will need to move beyond Einstein’s theory to a more comprehensive theory of gravity that explains what a black hole is.”

Einstein’s 1915 theory holds that what we perceive as the force of gravity arises from the curvature of space and time. The scientist proposed that objects such as the sun and the Earth change this geometry. Einstein’s theory is the best description of how gravity works, said Ghez, whose UCLA-led team of astronomers has made direct measurements of the phenomenon near a supermassive black hole—research Ghez describes as “extreme astrophysics.”

Three Maunakea Observatories assisted Ghez in completing the most comprehensive test ever of Einstein’s theory—W. M. Keck Observatory, Gemini Observatory and Subaru Telescope.

This research, which was completed in the Fall of last year, published Thursday, July 25, 2019, in the journal Science. Read the full release here.

ADVERTISEMENT

Print

Share this Article

Get Weekly Updates

Get a quick summary of what's happening on Hawaii with our weekly email of news highlights:

ARTICLE COMMENTS ( 0 )
View Comments