The theory of relativity have checked close to a black hole

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This extreme environment makes it the flawless place to explore gravitational physics, and particularly to test Einstein's relativity theory.

"We have put enormous effort into getting the instruments into good shape before the star approached the black hole", said Thibaut Paumard, a researcher at the French National Research Institute, the CNRS, in Paris. "So it's very important in astronomy to also check that those laws are still valid where the gravitational fields are very much stronger".

A team of global scientists observing a star in the Milky Way have for the first time confirmed Einstein's predictions of what happens to the motion of a star passing close to a supermassive black hole.

Last May, Genzel and his team pointed their instruments to S2 as it passed close to the black hole.

Einstein's theory still doesn't explain everything about the universe, which is why scientists keep testing it, but they acknowledge he's won this round.

The global team of astronomers used ESO's advanced equipment to follow a star called S2, one of the stars surrounding the closest supermassive black hole to the Earth. This event is reportedly consistent with the predictions from Einstein's theory of general relativity.

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European Southern Observatory shows an artist impression of the path of the star S2 as it passes very close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

The trail-blazing observations were made using the Very Large Telescope and the GRAVITY, SINFONI and NACO adaptive optics instrumentation.

The star travels at a very fast clip of 3% of the speed of light.

But confirming Einstein's work - again, "feels like we're kind of beating a dead horse", said Sutter, who wasn't part of the research team led by Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.

Infrared light from the star made its way through intervening clouds of dust across 26,000 light years to Earth where astronomers have been monitoring S2 and other stars near the black hole for the past 26 years.

The team compared S2's position and velocity measurements to previous observations and found the results to be in agreement with Einstein's gravity predictions. Note that the sizes of the black hole and the star are not to scale. That black hole goes by the name Sagittarius A*, and it is constantly the subject of studies by researchers around the world, here on Earth. In this case, it is the influence of the black hole on the stars that surround it.

More than 100 years after he published his paper setting out the equations of general relativity, Einstein has been proved right once more - in a much more extreme laboratory than he could have possibly imagined.

Further measurements will follow, and are already expected to reveal another relativistic effect soon - a small rotation of the star's orbit known as Schwarzschild precession - as S2 moves away from the black hole.

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