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Milky Way Speed Racer: Star Near Black Hole Could Test Einstein’s Relativity

F365237 01: Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge in the Sombrero Galaxy, in this photo taken February 22, 2000. Even with a small telescope pointed toward the constellation of Virgo, light that is 50 million years old can be seen emanating from the distant galaxy. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and is thought to house a large black hole. (Courtesy of NASA

Talk about warp speed!

Astronomers have found a star so close to the massive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy that its orbit around the gravitational Goliath is only 11-and-a-half years.Its discovery may test the very fundamentals of physics.

With most stars trapped near a black hole taking 60 years or more to circle it, this stellar speed racer is so close that, if Einstein was correct about the whole relativity thing, the time and space in which the star exists must be seriously warped. And now, scientists have a way of find out. A comparative speed analysis between the orbit of this newly discovered star and that of another star known to make a quick 16-year loop should reveal the true geometry of space-time this close to a black hole.

For objects that even light can’t escape from, black holes just keep revealing more and more.