An important announcement by physicists about Albert Einstein's theory of relativity

Albert Einstein is right again: a prediction of his theory of general relativity has been successfully tested near a supermassive black hole located at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

For the first time, observations made with the so-called VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile highlighted the effects of general relativity on a star passing through the intense gravitational field of the black hole, the Australian European Observatory (ESO) announced on Thursday.

"We have verified an important prediction of the theory of general relativity in the environment of a black hole, which is that of gravitational redness," said Guy Perrin, one of the "parents" of the Gravity instrument that allowed this result, published Thursday in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

A black hole is such a dense object that it prevents any matter or light from escaping its gravitational pull. It is qualified as supermassive when its mass ranges from several million to several billion solar masses.

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The center of our galaxy shelters one of these invisible monsters, Sagittarius A *, 26,000 light years away from Earth. Its mass is equivalent to 4 million times that of the Sun. This black hole is surrounded by an agglomeration of stars that reach vertiginous speeds as it approaches it.

Based on Gravity and two other instruments of the VLT, the international astronomy team focused on one of these stars, S2, and noticed it before and after its transition closest to Sagittarius A *, which took place at May 19th.

When the star passed 120 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun by the black hole (less than 20 billion kilometers), its orbital speed reached 8,000 km / second and 3% of the speed of light. Extremely extreme conditions for star S2 to have important effects on general relativity.

"According to this theory, a massive body draws light (curves light rays) or slows down time. This latter effect is the one that leads to redness near Sagittarius A *," explains Guy Perrin, astronomer at the Paris-PSL Observatoire.

"When the star approaches the black hole, it looks redder than it really is, as there is a wavelength gap to red, due to the gravitational pull of the black hole," he added.

This is the first time this effect is directly measured for the intense gravitational field of a black hole.

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