Einstein Theory on Gravitational Waves Proved Right in another Galaxy

A team of astronomers from University of Portsmouth made a precise test of gravity outside solar system by combining the data taken from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.

The General Theory of Relativity (GR) was published in 1915, by Albert Einstein, which explained the principle of gravity. Astronomers across the world have since then carried out several tests and experiments to prove the theory precisely. The notion of an expanding universe was known since 1929. However, research in 1998 revealed that the universe was expanding faster than earlier thought. The research, which was rewarded with Nobel Prize is understood only when the universe is extensively filled with Dark energy. This model is based on exact precision of GR on cosmological scales. To further prove this cosmological model long distance properties of gravity need validation.

The research team led by Dr Thomas Collett, an astronomer from Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth has pooled the data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, to prove that GR stands true on other galactic scales as well. The galaxy ESO325-G004, which is at a distance of 500 light years from earth was used as a gravitational lens to make a precise test of gravity on astronomical length scales.

Massive objects such as galaxies deform space-time. The passage of light is deflected when it passes near another galaxies. Two galaxies arranged in a straight line of sight gives rise to gravitational lensing, which produces multiple images of the back ground galaxies. The mass of ESO325-G004 galaxy and the distance of separation between the multiple images gives insight of the nature of GR on galactic scales. The data from the Very Large Telescope in Chile gave the mass of E325 galaxy. The mass was compared with the image separation from Hubble Space telescope. It resulted in 9% precision of GR, which is the highest till date for just one galaxy. The research was published in the journal Science on June 21, 2018.

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