Distortions in space-time could challenge Einstein’s theory of relativity

    A telescope image of warped yellow starlight forming a smiley face against a black background

A telescope image of warped yellow starlight forming a smiley face against a black background

Scientists could soon test Einstein’s theory general relativity measuring the distortion of time.

According to new research published June 22 in the journal Nature astronomy, the recently proposed method turns the boundary of space and time into a vast cosmic laboratory for investigating whether general relativity can explain dark matter, a mysterious and invisible form of matter that can only be deduced from its gravitational influence on matter and space. visible energies of the universe as well as the acceleration of the expansion of the universe due to dark energy. The method is ready to be tested on future investigations of the deep universe, according to the study authors.

Related: The expansion of the universe could be a mirage, suggests a new theoretical study

General relativity states that gravity is the result of mass deformation of the fabric of space and time, which Einstein lumped together into a four-dimensional entity called space time. According to relativity, time passes more slowly near a massive object than in a massless vacuum. This change over time is called a time warp.

Since its introduction in 1915, general relativity has been tested extensively and has become our own better description of gravity on huge scales. But scientists aren’t yet sure whether it can explain invisible dark matter and dark energy, which together account for about 95 percent of the energy and matter in the universe.

“The time distortion predicted by general relativity has already been measured very precisely at small distances,” Camillo Bonvin, the study’s lead author and associate professor at the University of Geneva, told Live Science by email. ‘It has been measured for planes flying around the Earth, for stars in our galaxy and also for galaxy clusters. We propose a method to measure the distortion of time at very large distances.’

The method suggests testing time warp by measuring redshift, the change in the frequency of light emitted by an object as it moves away from us. Bonvin said the difference here is that this technique measures the redshift caused by light’s attempts to escape from a gravity well, a “dent” in spacetime created by a massive object.

“This ascent changes the frequency of light because time passes at different speeds inside and outside the gravity well,” he said. “As a result, the color of the light changed, it went red. By measuring the gravitational redshift, we get a measure of the distortion of time.”

An image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows one of the most complete Einstein rings scientists have studied to date.

An image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows one of the most complete Einstein rings scientists have studied to date.

It’s time to test general relativity

The time distortion suggests that time is not absolute in our universe, but rather passes at varying rates depending on gravitational fields. This idea is not unique to general relativity.

“Time warp exists in all modern theories of gravity,” Bonvin said. “However, the magnitude of the time warp of how much the presence of a massive object slows time varies from theory to theory.”

In general relativity, the distortions of time and space are predicted to be the same; in other theories of gravity, this is not always the case. This means that by measuring the distortion of time and comparing it to the distortion of space, physicists can test the validity of general relativity.

The team’s new method could also test another important theory of the cosmos: Euler’s formula, which astronomers use to calculate the motion of galaxies. Specifically, the team’s proposed measurement of time warp could demonstrate whether dark matter complies Euler’s equationas previous studies of time warp have assumed.

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“We’ve never observed a dark matter particle directly. We’ve only felt its presence gravitationally,” said Bonvin. “Consequently, we do not know whether dark matter obeys Euler’s equation. It could very well be that dark matter is affected by additional forces or interactions in our universe in addition to gravity. If this is the case, then dark matter does not will make it obey Euler’s equation.”

The team’s method could be employed by future missions, including the European Space Agency’s Euclid Telescope, due to launch in July, and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, which is three years into its five-year survey of the universe.

“It will be possible to measure the time bias with the data these surveys provide,” said Bonvin. “This is very interesting because, for the first time, we will be able to compare the distortion of time with that of space, to see if general relativity is valid, and we will also be able to compare the distortion of time with the speed of galaxies, to see if the “Euler’s equation is valid. With a new measurement, we will be able to test two fundamental laws.”

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