Astronomers from collaborations GRAVITY for the first time been able directly to detect the precession of the orbit of a star near a supermassive black hole at the center of the milky Way. This discovery is an important confirmation of the applicability of the General theory of relativity, it is reported on the website of the European southern Observatory.
The General theory of relativity is one of the most important theories of gravity and is confirmed by many different experiments. Already discovered the deflection of light of stars near the Sun and gravitational lensing , for example, distant galaxies, open the slowing of time with motion in a gravitational field, and several times was able to register gravitational waves.
In 2002, the results of observation of a group of fast-moving stars, known as S-congestion, allowed to confirm the existence of the milky Way’s supermassive black holeassociated with the compact radio source Sagittarius a*. The short distance to the black hole and the high speed of some star clusters make them a convenient natural area to test the phenomena predicted by the General theory of relativity. Among them are the bright young star S2 (or S0-2) spectral class, which makes a complete revolution around the black hole in 16 years and is approaching it is 17 light hours, which is 4 times greater than the distance from the Sun to Neptune.
Observations of this star have been conducted for several decades. In 2017, was shown possibility of experimental check of relativistic effects of the star S2, and it turned out that the properties of the stars have no influence on the observation. In may 2018 the star S2 had approached the black hole at a distance of less than 20 billion kilometers, which allowed astronomers collaboration of GRAVITY for the first time to confirm predicted by the theory of relativity features of the motion of stars in a strong gravitational field, as well as to impose restrictions on arusaamist of the principle of local spatial invariance.
Now a team of astronomers under the direction of Frank Eisenhower (Frank Eisenhauer) reported about the new important discovery, which was made on the basis of data analysis for the 27 years of observations of the star S2, with the assistance of GRAVITY receivers, SINFONI and NACO installed on the VLT telescope in Chile. Scientists first recorded a star , the Schwarzschild precession — a relativistic effect, namely that the orbit of the object (in this case of the star S2), moving in the gravitational field of another object (a black hole), not closed (as in the case of Newtonian theory), and precessive in the orbit plane in the direction of motion. This phenomenon, known as anomalous shift of the perihelion of mercury, was in his time one of the first serious evidence of the theory of relativity. GRAVITY observations are fully consistent with the theoretical predictions at the level of statistical significance in the 5-6 Sigma.
It is expected that after the commissioning of the telescope ELT , astronomers will have the opportunity to find a more dim and close to the black hole of a star that allows you to know with high precision its mass and spin.
Earlier we told you about how the look of the surroundings of a supermassive black hole at the center of the milky Way and how this mysterious object helped the new born stars.