Einstein’s theory of general relativity states gravity is matter warping spacetime. According to the German scientist’s theory, the faster a body spins, the more space-time it can pull – an effect known as frame-dragging.
Experts already knew gravity can alter space-time – with a strong gravitational pull being able to stretch time – but the mathematics of it do not match with quantum mechanics, the understanding of the cosmos on a sub-atomic level.
However, new research which looked at the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy has revealed Einstein’s theory was almost certainly correct.
In fact, it has just got 500 times harder to prove, according to the study from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project.
In the test, scientists used the first-ever image of a black hole, called M87*, to show the black hole shadow was consistent with the size predicted by Einstein in his theory.
However, this actually makes matters more confusing for scientists looking for a “theory of everything”, as it shows something needs tweaking.
University of Arizona astrophysics professor Dimitrios Psaltis said: “We expect a complete theory of gravity to be different from general relativity, but there are many ways one can modify it.
“We found that whatever the correct theory is, it can’t be significantly different from general relativity when it comes to black holes.
“We really squeezed down the space of possible modifications.”
Astrophysics professor Feryal Özel, a senior member of the EHT collaboration, added: “Using the gauge we developed, we showed that the measured size of the black hole shadow in M87 tightens the wiggle room for modifications to Einstein’s theory of general relativity by almost a factor of 500, compared to previous tests in the solar system.