Scientists knew their goal when they pointed the X-Ray space telescopes NuSTAR and XMM-Newton toward a supermassive black hole in the heart of a faraway galaxy known as IZwicky1. So how is it possible that some of nature’s deadliest forces are also some of its most brilliant? There’s a reason black holes are called black holes. The hot gases that fall into black holes, on the other hand, become superheated and light brightly.
The worldwide team set out to answer this question. But, instead, they confirmed Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in one of the most extreme tests yet conducted. Researchers were able to verify that what they were seeing were X-Ray reflections from behind the black hole after a chance sighting of extraordinarily intense X-Ray flares near the supermassive black hole and meticulous examination of the flare’s “echoes.” The tremendous gravity of the black hole was bending the X-Ray light around the corner.
Einstein covers two interrelated theories in his book Relativity: The Special and General Theory, one of which is general relativity, a concept proposed in 1915. According to general relativity, a significant object can twist space-time around it, resulting in what we call gravity. This aspect of Einstein’s theory has been demonstrated numerous times, most notably during a solar eclipse in 1919, when astronomer Arthur Eddington verified that the sun’s gravity bent the light from stars in the same way that Einstein predicted.