New Study Shows Einstein Was Right About Black Holes

New Study Shows Einstein Was Right About Black Holes

Oxford research confirms a gravitational theory predicted by Einstein a century ago


Alberto Einstein and his surprising theory of gravity once again confirm an impressive event in the Universe.

Einstein's theory of gravity, which predicted the "ultimate collapse" of black holes, has been proven, and now we know more about it.

In his theory of gravity, Albert Einstein predicted that if close enough to a black hole, particles cannot safely follow circular orbits, but instead rush rapidly toward it at a speed close to the of light in what is known as the 'immersion region'.

A century later, a group of astrophysicists from the University of Oxford has obtained the first observational proof that this region around black holes not only exists, but also exerts one of the greatest gravitational forces.

The new findings, which demonstrate a key prediction made by the famous German physicist, have been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by an international team led by researchers from the Department of Physics at the prestigious British university.

The study focuses on small black holes relatively close to Earth, using X-ray data collected by NASA's NuSTAR and NICER space telescopes.

From The River To The Waterfall

«Einstein's theory predicted that this final fall would exist, but this is the first time we have been able to demonstrate that it happens. Think of it as a river turning into a waterfall; Until now, we've been looking at the river. This is our first view of the waterfall. We believe that this represents an interesting new advance in the study of black holes, which will allow us to investigate this last area around them. Only then can we fully understand the gravitational force. “This final plasma fall occurs at the very edge of a black hole and shows that matter responds to gravity in its strongest possible form,” they say.

Confirming The Theory

For many decades, astrophysicists have debated whether the so-called immersion region would be detectable. The Oxford team has spent the last few years developing models for this and, in the study just published, demonstrates its first confirmed detection found using X-ray telescopes and data from the International Space Station.

While this study focuses on small black holes closer to Earth, a second study team from Oxford's Department of Physics is part of a European initiative to build a new telescope, the Africa Millimeter Telescope, which would greatly improve our ability to take direct images of black holes. More than €10 million of funding has already been secured, some of which will go towards several first doctorates in astrophysics at the University of Namibia, in close collaboration with the Oxford Department of Physics. The new telescope is expected to make it possible to observe and film large black holes at the center of our own galaxy, as well as far beyond, for the first time.