Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Theory of general relativity proven yet again in new research

Theory of general relativity proven yet again in new research Theory of general relativity proven yet again in new research
Elijah Vega | 08 July, 2018, 05:08

Albert Einstein's theory of gravity, postulated more than a century ago as the General Theory of Relativity, is here to stay and remains to this date "a reasonable way to understand the universe", states Discover Magazine.

On the other hand, according to Einstein's theory of general relativity, pulsar's behavior under an external gravitational field should not be different from that of any other body within that field, be it a feather or a star.

Like all scientific theories, general relativity makes testable predictions.

The team's result is 10 times more precise that the previous best test of gravity, making the evidence for Einstein's Strong Equivalence Principle that much stronger. In 1971, Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott dropped a feather and a hammer simultaneously; the two hit the gray lunar dirt at the same time.

However, it is hard to determine whether the equivalence principle applies in every situations-when the objects which are used are supremely heavy or giant, just like This wiggle room has given some expectations to supports of many other gravity theories, although these kinds of folks remain in the minority.

However, while GR has passed most of these tests, some researchers hypothesize that there are certain situations where alternative theories of gravity could be at play. The new study has nevertheless proved that the principle is true for all cases.

An worldwide team of astronomers, which includes Duncan Lorimer, West Virginia University professor of physics and astronomy, has tested Einstein's theory using three stars orbiting each other: a neutron star and two white dwarfs. The team used Arecibo to focus on the neutron star, then analyzed the data to study the system as a whole. They sweep over the earth at regular intervals, like a cosmic lighthouse.

The system in question, known as PSR J0337+1715, is located 4,200 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Taurus.

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In the three-star system, the neutron star is in a 1.6-day orbit with one white dwarf, and the second white dwarf orbits this pair with a period of 327 days. White dwarfs are small, dense stars comparable in size to the Earth, but with a mass closer to the Sun. When talking about outer space, we are referring to the 'Strong Equivalence Principle'.

"We can account for every single pulse of the neutron star in PSR J0337+1715 since we began our observations", said team leader Dr. Anne Archibald, from the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. "And we can tell its location to within a few hundred meters. That is a really precise track of where the neutron star has been and where it is going".

By tracking the inner pair of stars through the course of several orbits of the outer white dwarf, scientists could measure whether the pulsar and inner white dwarf were affected differently by the gravity of the outer white dwarf. This distortion would cause the pulsar radiation to arrive at a slightly different time than expected.

Yet the researchers did not find out or detect any kind of distortion.

"If there is a difference, it is no more than 3 parts in a million", co-author Nina Gusinskaia, a doctoral student at the University of Amsterdam, said in the same statement. The extreme nature of the observed system has resulted in an even narrower range of theory possibilities than ever before.

"We still don't know if general relativity is correct, but now we know that the right gravitational theory must look even more similar to general relativity that we previously thought".

Researchers were wondering whether the same principles can apply to larger scales of the Universe, like a whole galaxy, and now they have the answer: it does!

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