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16 Apr, 2020 10:17

Star proves Einstein’s theory as it orbits supermassive black hole in stunning ‘SPIROGRAPH’ pattern (VIDEO)

Observations of the star S2, which orbits a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, show that not only does it prove predictions made by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, it does so in spectacular fashion.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have been tracking S2’s orbit around the black hole Sagittarius A* since the 1990s. After poring over the data from the observations, the researchers have now concluded that S2's orbit isn't a fixed-in-position ellipse but instead shifts position like a spirograph drawing, as illustrated in this incredible animation.

The ‘spirograph’ phenomenon is known as Schwarzschild precession, and S2 has now proven that such celestial oddities hold true even in the most extreme gravitational environment in the universe. 

S2 comes within 17 light-hours of the black hole or roughly four times the distance between Neptune and the sun and, in doing so, reaches speeds of up to three percent the speed of light as it is swung around by the black hole's immense gravity. 

In addition, the observations of S2's movement around the black hole also confirmed Sagittarius A*'s mass as being around four million times that of the sun, further confirming previous predictions while also setting limits on the amount of invisible material, such as dark matter or even smaller black holes, that could possibly be orbiting the gaping black hole at the heart of our galaxy.

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