Neutron Stars Prove Einstein Right (Again)

By Eliza Strickland | July 7, 2008 9:44 am

pulsar twin starsA new study of a pair of neutron stars has proven that Albert Einstein got the details right on his theory of general relativity, which describes the interactions of gravity, space, and time in our universe. A team of astrophysicists examined two newly discovered neutron stars, the small and dense stellar bodies formed after a supernova collapses, and found that Einstein accurately predicted their movements more than 90 years before the unusual star system was first sighted.

In Einstein’s relativistic universe, matter curves space and slows down time, and the speed of light remains the only constant. But those are the big effects. The theory of relativity also includes some more esoteric details, one of which is called spin precession. The idea goes like this: Two massive bodies orbiting near each other will warp space enough to disturb the central axis around which both are moving, causing them to begin wobbling just like spinning tops. Strong gravity creates this so-called precession, and the more massive the objects, the easier the precession is to observe [ScienceNow Daily News].

For the study, published in the journal Science, researchers examined a rare star system comprised of a pair of pulsars orbiting each other. A pulsar is a type of neutron star that emits a strong beam of radio waves from each magnetic pole; the beams periodically sweep past Earth’s telescopes showing a “pulse” of light like a lighthouse beacon. Scientists know of more than 1,700 pulsars in our galaxy but of only one binary-pulsar system, discovered in 2003. It comprises two pulsars locked into close orbit around each other, so close they could fit within the Sun. Because of its strong gravitational field, this system is the best place to test Einstein’s 93-year-old theory [AFP].

The international team of researchers tracked the pulses of one of the stars over the past four years, says Victoria Kaspi of McGill University. “Einstein predicted that, in such a field, the axis about which an object rotates will precess – or change direction slowly as the pulsar orbits around its companion. Imagine a spinning top tilted over slightly to one side – the spin axis wobbles” [Telegraph]. The result of their observations: The pulsar’s spin axis did indeed wobble, exactly as Einstein predicted.

Image: Daniel Cantin/McGill University

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math, Space
  • http://deleted Somebody in the Universe

    Six million Jews, among them one and half million Jewish children, had murdered by the German peoples with support and anticipation of, many, many Europeans in ww2. The German peoples and Europeans was (and are) crazy of jealousy and hate. What stupidity and madness.

  • Bystander

    Somebody in the Universe…

    Live in today. No one ever talks about the recorded 9 million murders during the witch hunts. No one ever talks about the countless murders carried out in the many names of gods. What makes the Jews so special?

    Learn from the past and teach well those who will rule tomorrow and hold faith that our young species will outgrow these childish hates.

    You can count the generations that have enjoyed the luxury of electricity and proper hygiene on one hand.

  • Pingback:

  • kate

    when will the show end, anyone know?

  • Ivan Pasternak

    to Bystander Says:, Says:, kate Says:
    Google the truth.

    The witch -hunt How many died?
    “The most dramatic [recent] changes in our vision of the Great Hunt [have] centered on the death toll,” notes Jenny Gibbons. She points out that estimates made prior to the mid-1970s, when detailed research into trial records began, “were almost 100% pure speculation.” (Gibbons, Recent Developments.) “On the wilder shores of the feminist and witch -cult movements,” writes Robin Briggs, “a potent myth has become established, to the effect that 9 million women were burned as witches in Europe; gendercide rather than genocide. [See, e.g., the witch -hunt documentary “The Burning Times”.] This is an overestimate by a factor of up to 200, for the most reasonable modern estimates suggest perhaps 100,000 trials between 1450 and 1750, with something between 40,000 and 50,000 executions, of which 20 to 25 per cent were men.” Briggs adds that “these figures are chilling enough, but they have to be set in the context of what was probably the harshest period of capital punishments in European history.” (Briggs, Witches & Neighbours, p. 8.)

  • Bob Snyder

    So….. what does any of this have to do with neutron stars? Pretty sure I would have deleted all of your irrelevant, misplaced comments if this were my blog.


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