This year marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Strangely enough, the Hubble Space Telescope has simultaneously provided illustrated confirmation of the physicist’s theories. A more timely celebration and vindication of relativity couldn’t have been imagined.
As the Independent reports, the Hubble Space Telescope provides evidence of the general theory of relativity in its four images of light emanating on different trajectories from an exploding supernova which existed 9.3 billion light years away from Earth. The light is shown to have been distorted by an extensive mass of clustered galaxies nearby and other “missing matter” (or dark matter). Arranged in the expected “Einstein cross”, as Patrick Kelly of the University of California, Berkeley explained, the difference in the light’s paths and travel times goes a long way to support Einstein’s 100-year old theory of relativity. Dr Patrick Kelly, also of the University of California, Berkeley, elucidated.
“Basically, we get to see the supernova four times and measure the time delays between its arrival in the different images, hopefully learning something about the supernova and the kind of star it exploded from, as well as about the gravitational lenses.”
— The Independent (@Independent) March 6, 2015
The 1915 general theory of relativity developed from Einstein’s 1905 special theory of relativity, wherein – as Space reports – he proposed that “the laws of physics appear the same to all observers” and that the speed of light is unchanging. Additionally, he put forth the concept that everything moves relative only to everything else. Heavily influenced by David Hume’s 1738 A Treatise of Human Nature, Einstein went further and stated that space and time exist in one continuum: space-time, wherein space is comprised of three dimensions and time makes up the fourth.
Gravity occurs when mass warps space-time, creating a “gravity well” (imagine the impression a spherical paperweight makes when placed in the middle of a soft cushion). In this way, gravity bends light, causing “gravitational lensing”. As the Business Standard reports, astronomers have been seeking this gravitational lensing for the past two decades. The recent discovery of the Hubble Space Telescope not only proves Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but also brings into consideration the quantity of dark matter– and dark energy – that exists in the universe.
— ITV News (@itvnews) March 5, 2015
Back in November of last year, the Inquisitr reported that a “black hole object“, which came to be known as Markarian 177, had been discovered in the Big Dipper. This provided preliminary proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity due to the gravitational waves noted. Indeed, and further supporting the general theory of relativity, in 2011 NASA’S Gravity Probe B (GP-B) mission “confirmed two key predictions” of the theoretical physicist. Launched in 2004, but with development originating all the way back in 1963, GP-B’s findings were published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Francis Everitt, GP-B’s principal investigator at Stanford University, explained.
“Imagine the Earth as if it were immersed in honey. As the planet rotates, the honey around it would swirl, and it’s the same with space and time. GP-B confirmed two of the most profound predictions of Einstein’s universe, having far-reaching implications across astrophysics research.”
— CosmosUp (@CosmossUp) March 6, 2015
Einstein’s general theory of relativity, as Yahoo! News reports, is the foundation for understanding the “origin and evolution of the universe.” It is the key to understanding how and why it all began. The Hubble Space Telescope findings were published online yesterday in the journal Science by Roger Blandford of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University.
“General relativity is the essential foundation of the standard model of cosmology and underlies our description of the black holes and neutron stars that are ultimately responsible for the most powerful and dramatic cosmic sources. Its interface with physics on the smallest and largest scales will continue to provide fertile areas of investigation in its next century.”
It is uncanny that the Hubble Space Telescope’s discovery of proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity comes as the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of the physicist’s predictions. However, if it all still seems a bit difficult to visualize, some have said that viewing of the 2014 movie Interstellar can help, having been hailed as one of the most accurate filmic imaginings of space in existence.
[Image courtesy of Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]