“It is possible that there’s a zoo of different compact objects, and while some of them are the black holes that follow Einstein and Hawking’s laws, others may be slightly different beasts,” says Maximiliano Isi, a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and lead author of a study about a signal from a gravitational wave merger.
“After ruling out a range of potential experimental errors, we started to suspect that the interaction between the white dwarf and neutron star was not as simple as had been assumed to date,” concluded Willem van Straten, an astronomer at the Auckland University of Technology, about the detection of Lense-Thirring precession. This relativistic effect first hypothesized a century ago alters the orbit of two compact massive objects in a binary star system. The results of the twenty-year study confirm a prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. When a massive object rotates, general relativity predicts that it pulls the surrounding spacetime around with it, a phenomenon known as frame-dragging.
“It is undeniable that we are profoundly puzzled, especially when it comes to the first fraction of a second that followed the Big Bang,” wrote theoretical physicist Dan Hooper, author of The Edge of Time in an email to The Daily Galaxy–Great Discoveries Channel. “I have no doubt that these earliest moments hold incredible secrets, but our universe holds its secrets closely. It is up to us to coax those secrets from its grip, transforming them from mystery into discovery.”
Hubble astronomers found something extraordinary at the heart of nearby globular cluster NGC 6397 –a concentration of smaller black holes lurking there instead of one monster, supermassive black hole. Ancient stellar jewelry boxes, globular star clusters are densely packed objects, glittering with the light of a million stars in a ball only about 100 light-years across dating back almost to the birth of the Milky Way.