The European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, using one of the world's most powerful telescopes, has discovered a "dancing" star whose possible existence near black holes was predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago.
Einstein's General theory of relativity, which he outlined in 1915, stated that the orbits in which one object rotates around another need not be closed, as in Newtonian mechanics. A star discovered by astronomers in the very center of the milky way, according to the prediction, describes an orbit that resembles a flower, rather than a classic ellipse.
According to the Observatory's communique, this unusual orbit is found near a star that orbits a "compact radio source" known as Sagittarius A*.
"This breakthrough in observations confirms evidence that Sagittarius A* must be a supermassive black hole with a mass 4 million times that of the Sun," said Reinhard Genzel, Director of the German Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial physics and one of the creators of the Observatory's observation program.
The statement also notes that the object Sagittarius A*, which is 26,000 light-years away from the Sun, and the dense cluster of stars around it provide scientists with a unique laboratory for testing physical phenomena in the previously unexplored mode of extreme gravity.