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Astronomers Test Einstein in a New Regime Using Pair of Burnt-Out Stars


A team of astronomers led by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the emission of gravitational waves from the second-strongest known source in our galaxy by studying the shrinking orbital period of a unique pair of burnt-out stars. Their observations tested Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in a new regime. The results will be published soon in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Last year, the same team discovered that the two white dwarf stars are so close together that they make a complete orbit in less than 13 minutes, and they should be gradually slipping closer. The system, called SDSS J065133.338+284423.37 (J0651 for short), contains two white dwarf stars, which are the remnant cores of stars like our sun.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts that moving objects create subtle ripples in the fabric of space-time, called gravitational waves. Though not yet directly observed, gravitational waves should carry away energy, causing the stars to inch closer together and orbit each other faster and faster.

Full Story: http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/news/releases/2012/0828

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