"Black Hole Messier 87" by Event Horizon Telescope / CC BY 3.0

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Holds Up Around a Supermassive Black Hole

Jul 26, 2019

By Charles Q. Choi

By analyzing the extraordinarily strong gravitational pull of the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way on a star near it, astronomers have shown that Einstein’s ideas about space and time still hold true as the best description yet of how gravity works.

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity results from how mass warps space and time. The greater an object’s mass, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Scientists have largely tested general relativity’s predictions in relatively weak gravitational fields, such as those on Earth and in the solar system. In the presence of much stronger gravitational fields — such as those of the supermassive black holes thought to lurk in the hearts of virtually all large galaxies — researchers might discover violations of general relativity that could lead to new theories that might help explain cosmic mysteries such as dark matter and dark energy.

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