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Einstein’s theory of gravity passes toughest test yet

india Updated: Apr 27, 2013 00:35 IST

Albert Einstein passes the test of spacetime!

The study of a bizarre binary star system nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth shows that Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds true even when tested in the most extreme conditions, astronomers claim.

A newly-discovered pulsar, a spinning neutron star with twice the mass of the Sun — and its white-dwarf companion, orbiting each other once every two and a half hours, has put gravitational theories to the most extreme test yet.

At some point, scientists expect Einstein’s theory on General Relativity, published in 1915, to be invalid under extreme conditions.

Physicists hope to find an alternate description of gravity that would eliminate that incompatibility.

Observations of the system, dubbed PSR J0348+0432, produced results consistent with the predictions of General Relativity, researchers said.

The tightly-orbiting pair was discovered with the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and subsequently studied in visible light with different telescopes.

In such a system, the orbits decay and gravitational waves are emitted, carrying energy from the system. By very precisely measuring the time of arrival of the pulsar’s radio pulses over a long period of time, astronomers can determine the rate of decay and the amountof gravitational radiation emitted.