General relativity caught in action around black hole | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


General relativity caught in action around black hole

Wobbling disk of orbiting debris shows yanking and twisting of spacetime

5:50pm, December 17, 2015
black hole H1743-322

RELATIVITY TEST BED  The black hole H1743-322 is corralling material from a star to form a disk, similar to the setup in this illustration. Researchers studied X-rays from the disk to detect an effect called frame dragging.

GENEVA — An effect of general relativity that is barely measurable on Earth has been spotted in full force around a black hole.

Physicists detected the signature of a black hole twisting the fabric of spacetime around it. The discovery offers the best evidence yet of this relativity-driven twisting effect, known as frame dragging, around a black hole where it is most powerful. The research was reported December 16 at the Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics.

Researchers captured the extreme frame dragging by analyzing X-rays emanating from a disk of star debris swirling around a black hole about 28,000 light-years away in the Milky Way. The data suggest that the disk’s matter is on a wild ride as the spacetime it occupies gets yanked and warped by the spinning black hole.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content