Scientists have discovered a star “dancing” around Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, that moves just as Einstein predicted with his general theory of relativity. The team has studied it for 27 years using European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert, hoping to unravel the mysteries of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of our galaxy. Read more for a video and additional information.
At its closest point, S2 is less than 12.5 billion miles from Sagittarius A*, thus making it one of the closest stars ever observed orbiting the black hole. The ever-changing motion of S2 exactly matches that predicted by Einstein’s theory, or the rosette effect, which had never before been measured for a star around a supermassive black hole.
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Einstein’s General Relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian Gravity, but precess forwards in the plane of motion. This famous effect — first seen in the orbit of the planet Mercury around the Sun — was the first evidence in favor of General Relativity,” said co-author Reinhard Genzel.