Einstein once again proved right thanks to 16-years-long research on a pair known as “extreme stars”, or pulsars. These results match what Einstein expected under general relativity.

General relativity, the most accurate theory of gravity that we know, is incompatible with quantum mechanics. 

Science is constantly working to verify the validity of all or part if Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory.

The latest attempt came from experts at the University of East Anglia and the University of Manchester, who used binary pulsars as a gravity laboratory.  

These findings were consistent with Einstein’s prediction. However, they also observed light getting delayed due to gravity’s strong curvature.

Einstein has once again been proven right, thanks to the findings of a 16-year-study of a pair of 'extreme stars' known as pulsars, with the results matching what would be expected under his theory of general relativity

Einstein was once more proven correct by 16 year-long studies of two ‘extreme stars’, known as Pulsars. The results were consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

What is a PULSAR? 

The Pulsars, which are magnetized neutron stars that rotate in high rotation, are basically magnetic.

This star is made from matter that has a denser density than the normal, giving it a density similar to an atomic nuclear nucleus.

If it were that dense, the sun’s diameter would be less than 18 miles. 

This neutron star also has extremely strong magnetic field that can accelerate charged particles.

They emit radiation in the form of a cone-shaped beam that sweeps across the sky as the star revolves.

The beam becomes visible when it crosses the earth and produces light that cycles in a matter of milliseconds.

The rotational period of their planets is so constant that some astronomers use them to calibrate instruments. Others have suggested using it to sync clocks.

British astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who spotted a radio pulser in 1967, was the first to find a pulsar.

In addition to X-rays, gamma radiations being emitted by pulsars since then have been discovered. 

British researchers formed part of an international team that examined pulsars via seven radio telescopes spread around the globe.

This study was published in Physical Review X and reveals that new relativistic effects were observed, even though they had been expected.

Robert Ferdman from UEA’s School of Physics stated that Einstein’s theory of general relativism has been a success, but it’s not the last word. 

“More that 100 years later scientists from all around the world continue to search for flaws and in his theory,” Dr Ferdman explained. Ferdman also stated that general relativity does not agree with quantum mechanics’ other fundamental forces. 

“It is important that we continue to put the most rigorous tests on general relativity to determine when it fails.

A major discovery would include the ability to identify a deviation of Einstein’s predictions. This could open up new possibilities for physics.  

“And it might help us towards eventually discovering a single theory of the fundamental powers of nature,” said Dr Ferdman.

With support from researchers in ten nations, Michael Kramer led the study. It was Einstein’s most comprehensive test to date.

This involved the use of the one known pair of Pulsars as a laboratory. 

Dr Ferdman stated that a pulsar was a magnetic rotating compact star, which emits electromagnetic radiation from its magnetic poles.

“They are more heavy than the sun and only approximately 15 miles in diameter. They produce radio beams which sweep across the sky, much like lighthouses.

“We examined a double pulser, which was found by team members in 2003. It is the best laboratory currently available to verify Einstein’s theory.

His theory could not have been conceived at the time these extreme stars or the study techniques were possible.

Two pulsars orbit one another in approximately 147 minutes at speeds of around 1,000,000 km/h. One spinning 44 times per seconds. 

This companion is only 2.8 seconds old and rotates in a 1.8 second rotation. You can use their movement around each other as a gravity laboratory.

General relativity is the best theory of gravity we have come up with so far, but is not compatible with the other fundamental forces, described by quantum mechanics, researchers used seven radio telescopes, including the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank

General relativity, the most accurate theory of gravity that we know, is incompatible with other fundamental forces. Researchers used seven radio telescopes to study the issue, which included the Lovell Radio Telescope located at Jodrell Bank.

Key Findings 

Einstein was right: Five tests of general relativity were carried out as part of this new study. 

The theory was supported by multiple property of the orbit, such as the rotation rate. 

Energy is sucked out by gravitational waves: Each day the orbit of the pair pulsars shrinks by seven millimeters 

These waves are called gravitational wave, and they carry the star’s energy away.  

Pulsars are losing their massThey’re slowing down and losing rotational energie, which confirms E=MC2.

The pulsar spins in the same direction that it orbitsAstronomers can gain insight from this to understand how pulsars were formed. 

They started as neighboring stars, which exploded after each other. This left behind fragments that sent them spinning. 

Seven sensitive radio telescopes were used to observe this double pulsar – in Australia, the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and in the UK 

Professor Kramer explained that the team studied compact stars, which provide ideal conditions to examine theories in strong gravitational fields. 

Professor Kramer said, “To our joy, we were able test a cornerstone Einstein’s Theory, the energy carried through gravitational waves with a precision which is 25 times better that with the Nobel Prize-winning Hulse–Taylor Pulsar and 1000 times more than what currently exists with gravitationalwave detectors.”

He stated that his observations were not in accord with the theory but that he was able to observe effects that couldn’t be seen before.

Professor Benjamin Stappers from Manchester University was also part of this study. He said that finding the double-pulsar system made it possible.

This ‘presented to us the only instance of two cosmic clocks that allow for precise measurement of structure and evolution in an intense gravitational force field’

One of the telescopes involved is the Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Manchester, which has been monitoring it every couple of weeks since it was first discovered in 2005.

“This extensive base of quality observations and regular observation provided an outstanding data set that could be combined with the information from other observatories all around the globe.

Professor Ingrid Stairs, University of British Columbia at Vancouver was involved in this remarkable research. She said that a Pulsar functions like a cosmic lighthouse.

We follow radio photons propagating from a cosmic beam, called a Pulsar. Then, we track their movement in the strong gravitational field created by a companion Pulsar.

“We can see that light from the companion is delayed by strong spacetime curvature, and that it is also deflected by an angle of 0.04 degrees. This is the first observation that we have made. 

Scientists are constantly trying to prove all or part of the theory, proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915, to be wrong, as this would 'change physics as we know it' - this study involved a pair of pulsars in orbit around one another

Scientists continue to try to disprove the theories, which were first proposed in 1915 by Albert Einstein. This would cause physics to change as it is now. The study was based on two pulsars orbiting one another.

Einstein’s E = mc² equation has been used to create matter from pure light for the first time by smashing ions together at close to the speed of light 

Albert Einstein’s most well-known equation E = Mc2, that was part of the theory general relativity, is now being used by scientists to create matter using light.  

Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York used the Department of Energy’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider to accelerate two positively charged gold ions, which were normally used for nuclear Physics research.

The ions were then rapidly accelerated to 99.995 percent speed of light using two accelerator rings.

The speed at which light travels in vacuum is 299 792 458 meters (1186 282 miles per second).

Zhangbu Xu, Brookhaven Lab physicist, stated in a statement that if the speed is sufficiently high, then the strength the the circular magnetic fields can equal the strength the perpendicular electrical field.

A photon is a particle of light created by the arrangement of an electrical field and a magnetic field. 

Xu said that ions move at a speed close to light speed. There are a lot of photons around the gold nucleus and they travel along with it like a cloud.

“Never before had such an experiment taken at such high spacetime curvature.”

Australia’s national science organization, CSIRO, Prof Dick Manchester said fast orbital movement of compact objects – about 30% more massive than sun despite having only 24km in diameter – makes it possible to test multiple gravity theories. 

Prof Manchester stated that apart from light propagation and gravitational waves we can also measure time dilation, which causes clocks to run faster in gravitational fields.

When considering the impact of the electromagnetic radiation that the orbital motion produces from fast spinning pulsars, it is important to remember Einstein’s famous equation E= mc2.

This radiation results in a loss of 8,000,000 tonnes per second. Although this may seem like a huge amount, it’s only 3 percent of a million billion trillion! – The mass of the Pulsar every second.

The team was also capable of measuring the orientation change in orbits with precision to one millionth of a millimeter.

Although this relativistic effect is well-known from Mercury’s orbit, it is 140,000 times more powerful.

At this precision, they realized that the impact of the rotating pulsar upon the surrounding spacetime must be considered.

The study’s main author, Dr Norbert Wex, from the MPIfR said that this is the Lense-Thirring effect, or frame-dragging. This means we have to think of the internal structure as a neutron-star in order to understand our experiment.

“Our measurements have allowed us for the very first time to utilize the precise tracking of the neutron-star rotations, a technique we call pulser timing, to limit the excitation of the neutron star.

Pulsar timing methods were combined with precise star system measurements. With high resolution imaging, they were able determine its distance.

This allowed them to determine it is 2400 light years away from Earth, with only eight per cent error margin.  

Paulo Freire also of MPIfR said that the results were a nice complement to other experiments which measure gravity under different conditions, or show other effects like gravitational waves detectors and Event Horizon Telescope.

They also compliment other pulsar research, like the timing experiment of the pulsar with the stellar triple system’s pulsar, which provides an independent and excellent test of the universality free fall.

Professor Kramer said, “We have achieved a level that is unparalleled in precision. Further experiments using larger telescopes will be possible.

“Our research has demonstrated how such experiments should be performed and what subtle effects need to now be considered,” he said. We might even find an exception to general relativity.

These results were published in Physical Review X.


Albert Einstein (pictured) published his General Theory of Relativity in 1915

Albert Einstein (pictured) released his General Theory of Relativity, 1915.

Albert Einstein discovered in 1905 that all non-accelerating observers obey the laws of Physics and that light speed in vacuum is independent from the movement of any observers. This theory became known as special relativity.

The groundbreaking work created a framework that was new for all of Physics and introduced new concepts about space and time.

The theory was then extended for ten years, with the goal of including acceleration. He finally published his theory in 1915.

The result was that gravity is felt when massive objects create a disruption in spacetime.

You can think of it as a large rubber sheet that has a bowling ball on the middle.

Pictured is the original historical documents related to Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves, shown at the Hebrew university in Jerusalem

Here are the original historical documents that Einstein used to predict the existence gravitational wave, as shown at Jerusalem’s Hebrew university

A planet is able to bend the space-time fabric as the ball moves across it, creating gravity.

Because of this effect, any object near the body will fall towards it.

Einstein believed that two huge bodies would cause a ripple of space-time that could be detected on Earth.

This was demonstrated most recently in Interstellar, the blockbuster film.

The crew visited a planet that fell under the gravity of a large black hole. This segment caused the timer to stop massively.

While crew on the planet are young, those who were on board the ship had decades of experience.