Unusual three-star system promises new test of gravity

Measurements of pulsar and white dwarfs could bolster or dethrone general relativity

By Gabriel Popkin, 15:34 PM January 6, 2014

A unique threesome of stars locked in tight, circular orbits could help astronomers test the leading theory of gravity to unprecedented precision. The discovery of the celestial trio is reported January 5 in Nature.

“We should be grateful to the universe for making such things,” says Paulo Freire, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who applauds the finding. “Part of me wishes I were involved.”

Our galaxy is full of stellar couples and trios. But ...

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