Even 100 years after Albert Einstein formulated his General Theory of Relativity, new astronomical observations continue to confirm its reliability. Such observations include a pair of unusually dense stars discovered and studied by Australian astronomers, rotating near each other at a short distance, which literally stretch and twist the matrix of the space-time continuum with their gravity.
The system considered here is called PSR J1141-6545 and it consists of two “dead” stars. The first star is a white dwarf, the size of which is comparable to the size of the Earth, but whose density of matter is 300 thousand times higher than the density of terrestrial matter. The second object of the PSR J1141-6545 system is a pulsar, a rotating neutron star, 20 kilometers in diameter of which there is a mass exceeding the mass of the Earth by 100 billion times. The pulsar rotates around a white dwarf, making one revolution in five hours, while both stars rotate around their own axes with high speed.
According to the General Theory of Relativity, gravitational forces in the region of the PSR J1141-6545 system are determined by the sum of the huge masses of two stars and, in this case, these forces are enough to distort the matrix of the space-time continuum. Note that such an effect, which was predicted in the OTO, is manifested rather weakly, and the sensitivity of astronomical instruments of previous generations was insufficient for its direct detection from a large distance. And this case is the first in the history of science when scientists managed to get real evidence of the existence of this effect.
The discovery of the twisting effect of the space-time continuum was facilitated by huge amounts of matter that move at high speed in the PSR J1141-6545 system. Note that the observations of this system were carried out continuously for 20 years using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, and against such a long period of time, scientists were able to notice small gradual changes in the behavior of stars, which are caused by the deformation of space and time created by themselves.
The changes registered by scientists relate to the radiation frequency of the pulsar system. Indeed, under ordinary conditions, pulsars produce radiation pulses that follow with a certain period, which remains stable for a very long time. If suddenly the telescope begins to register pulsar pulses arriving at “inopportune” time, this implies the occurrence of interference of a signal or something else somewhere along its path.
The change in the period of the pulsar signals of the PSR J1141-6545 system, observed over 20 years, indicates a displacement of the orbital plane of its rotation due to the deformation created in the system, known as entrainment of inertial reference systems, or the Lense-Tyrring effect, which is an integral part of GR.
In conclusion, it should be noted that even after 100 years, the General Theory of Relativity continues to successfully pass tests of various kinds, which confirm its postulates and assumptions. Recall that just a few years ago, confirmation was found of one of the main aspects of GR – gravitational waves, which are pulsations of the space-time continuum caused by catastrophic events, such as collisions of black holes or neutron stars.