Astronomers Observe Star Orbiting Black Hole in Pattern That Would Make Einstein Very Happy

Shouts to the GOAT Albert.

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A study published Thursday shows that astronomers have seen a star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy for the very first time.

Reinhard Genzel, the director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, said in a CNN-reported statement that the observation is particularly notable in terms of an Albert Einstein connection.

"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," Genzel explained. Put another way, Newton's theory of gravity had posited that such an orbit would resemble an ellipse. It does not.

The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, is a paltry 26,000 light years away from the sun. A star known as S2, one of the closest to be discovered orbiting the black hole, takes about 16 Earth years (moving at three percent the speed of light) to finish an orbit. 

The research behind the latest general relativity booster was recently published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal. At the top of this page, peep an artist's animation of S2's damned impressive precession effect. The effect is referred to as a Schwarzschild precession.

In related space news, NASA reported earlier this month that more than 12,000 people had applied to be astronauts. Given how fuckery-laden everything currently is down here on Earth, most notably due to COVID-19 issues, that number is far from surprising.

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