facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Einstein's space 'ripples' confirmed

Aug. 28, 2012 at 8:25 PM   |   Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Entangled white dwarf stars have proved Einstein's theory that moving objects create subtle ripples in the fabric of space-time, U.S. astronomers say.

Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts moving objects create the ripples, called gravitational waves, and astronomers have used a pair of white dwarf stars so close together they make a complete orbit in less than 13 minutes to confirm it, a release from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reported Tuesday.

Gravitational waves are notoriously difficult to observe and have been detected only indirectly by radio astronomy, but the white dwarf pair has allowed astronomers to detect the same effect at optical wavelengths, the release said.

"Every six minutes the stars in [the system] J0651 eclipse each other as seen from Earth, which makes for an unparalleled and accurate clock some 3,000 light-years away," study lead author J.J. Hermes at the University of Texas at Austin said.

Gravitational waves created by the stars should carry away energy, causing them to inch closer together and orbit each other faster and faster, and the researchers said they were able to detect this effect in J0651.

"Compared to April 2011, when we discovered this object, the eclipses now happen six seconds sooner than expected," team member Mukremin Kilic of the University of Oklahoma said.

"This result marks one of the cleanest and strongest detections of the effect of gravitational waves," researcher Warren Brown of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory said.

"This is a general relativistic effect you could measure with a wrist watch."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Stonehenge was once a full circle, scientists say
2
Lake Michigan could get another marine sanctuary
3
Gibraltar cave art suggests Neanderthals more sophisticated than thought
4
Asian camel crickets now common U.S. house guests
5
Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback