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Black hole’s shadow puts Einstein’s famous theory to the test (again)

Another extreme test of general relativity, another win for Einstein.

Lia Medeiros

You’d be crazy to bet against Albert Einstein and his theory of general relativity. Formulated over 100 years ago, it reasons that gravity is the warping of space and time. Since Einstein conceived the theory, test after test — of eclipses and gravitational waves, for instance — has supported it. But if you need any more convincing that Einstein was on the money, researchers with the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration have just revealed more evidence that his theory stands up, even under some of the most extreme conditions in the universe.

In a study, published in the journal Physical Review Letters on Thursday, researchers from the EHT collaboration analyzed the images of the supermassive black hole that lies at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy to put Einstein’s theory to the test again. That black hole, M87*, is the same black hole researchers used to create the first-ever image of a black hole by the EHT team in 2019.

“This is really just the beginning,” said Lia Medeiros, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study and co-author on the study, in a press release. “We have now shown that it is possible to use an image of a black hole to test the theory of gravity,”

With the images acquired of M87*, which is about 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun, the research team were able take a closer look at how the massive black hole bends spacetime. A black hole does not emit any light, but it is surrounded by a hot disc of accreting gas around the event horizon — the point of no return. This hot,…

Jackson Ryan

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