general relativity

First ever black hole photo confirms Einstein’s theory of relativity

Black holes are long-time superstars of science fiction. But their Hollywood fame is a little strange given that no-one has ever actually seen one – at least, until now. If you needed to see to believe, then thank the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which has just produced the first ever direct image of a black hole. This amazing feat required global collaboration to turn the Earth into one giant telescope and image an object thousands of trillions of kilometres away.

It Could be Possible to Transfer Data Through Gravitational Waves

It Could be Possible to Transfer Data Through Gravitational Waves

On February 11th, 2016, scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made history when they announced the first detection of gravitational waves. Originally predicted made by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity a century prior, these waves are essentially ripples in space-time that are formed by major astronomical events – such as the merger of a binary black hole pair.

First Successful Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Near Supermassive Black Hole

First Successful Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Near Supermassive Black Hole

Observations made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have for the first time revealed the effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. This long-sought result represents the climax of a 26-year-long observation campaign using ESO’s telescopes in Chile.

How we proved Einstein right on galactic scales – and what it means for dark energy and dark matter

How we proved Einstein right on galactic scales – and what it means for dark energy and dark matter

Gravity may be the weakest of the fundamental forces in nature, but it is ultimately what enabled life on Earth to evolve. Thanks to its weak attractiveness over long distances, mass in the early universe could clump together and form galaxies, stars and planets such as our own.

ESO Survey Shows Dark Matter To Be Pretty ''Smooth''

ESO Survey Shows Dark Matter To Be Pretty ''Smooth''

Dark Matter has been something of a mystery ever since it was first proposed. In addition to trying to find some direct evidence of its existence, scientists have also spent the past few decades developing theoretical models to explain how it works. In recent years, the popular conception has been that Dark Matter is “cold”, and distributed in clumps throughout the Universe, an observation supported by the Planck mission data.

Biggest map of giant voids and clusters in the universe solves major cosmological puzzle

Biggest map of giant voids and clusters in the universe solves major cosmological puzzle

Since its discovery in 2008, astronomers have been puzzled by a cosmic mystery so vexing that it has even led some to question whether the general theory of relativity – Einstein’s masterpiece theory of gravity – is wrong on cosmic scales. The trouble is that light travelling through the universe does not seem to be affected by the gravity of large structures such as galaxy clusters in the way that Einstein had predicted.

Hubble helps find light-bending world with two suns

Hubble helps find light-bending world with two suns

A distant planet orbiting two stars, found by its warping of spacetime, has been confirmed using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The planet’s mass caused what is known as a microlensing event, where light is bent by an object’s gravitational field. The event was observed in 2007, making this the first circumbinary planet to be confirmed following detection of a microlensing event.

Gravitational waves found again: here’s how they could whisper the universe’s secrets

Gravitational waves found again: here’s how they could whisper the universe’s secrets

The international team of physicists and astronomers responsible for the discovery of gravitational waves back in February has announced the detection of a second strong signal from the depths of space. It is further confirmation that gravitational waves both exist and tell us a whole new story about how the universe came to be the way it is.

The art and beauty of general relativity

The art and beauty of general relativity

One hundred years ago this month, an obscure German physicist named Albert Einstein presented to the Prussian Academy of Science his General Theory of Relativity. Nothing prior had prepared scientists for such a radical re-envisioning of the foundations of reality. Encoded in a set of neat compact equations was the idea that our universe is constructed from a sort of magical mesh, now known as “spacetime”. According to the theory, the structure of this mesh would be revealed in the bending of light around distant stars.

Where Alice in Wonderland Meets Albert Einstein

Where Alice in Wonderland Meets Albert Einstein

One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity, one of the most important scientific achievements in the last century. A key result of Einstein’s theory is that matter warps space-time, and thus a massive object can cause an observable bending of light from a background object.  The first success of the theory was the observation, during a solar eclipse, that light from a distant background star was deflected by the predicted amount as it passed near the sun.