British company Earth-i confirmed the successful launch of a prototype satellite earlier today. Called the CARBONITE-2, it's an early test version of a planned constellation (the Vivid-i) that will be the first network bringing full color, full motio… Engadget RSS Feed
Scientists have applied new analytical techniques to data gleaned from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope (VLT) and other telescopes over the past twenty years. This new analysis of the stars orbiting the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way reveals movement that deviates from what classical physics would predict, supporting instead the subtle effects predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
The closest supermassive black hole to Earth is the one that rests 26,000 light-years away at the center of the Milky Way, and is four million times more massive than the Sun. This giant is surrounded by a cluster of stars orbiting in the strong gravitational field of the black hole — the ideal proving ground for Einstein’s general theory of relativity and, more generally, gravitational physics. This is why a team of astronomers has recently applied a new technique to observational data of the stars, comparing the star orbits actually measured with those predicted by both classical Newtonian gravity and general relativity.
Image Credit: ESO
The VLT’s near-infrared adaptive optics instruments provided the highly accurate positional measurements that were vital for the study to succeed. The accuracy of these measurements was essential, especially during the period when S2 was further away from the black hole, because that data allowed the team to accurately determine the starting shape of the orbit and how it changed as relativity influenced it. This new work also provided more accurate measurements of the black hole’s distance from Earth and its mass.
This research heralds a thrilling time for astronomers around the world observing the Galactic Center. During 2018, the GRAVITY instrument, installed on the VLT Interferometer, will be ready to measure the orbit of S2 as it passes very close to the supermassive black hole. This should reveal not only relativistic effects with more clarity, but perhaps even new physics, as astronomers detect deviations from general relativity.
It’s time to take notice of Sphero. Amazon, Google, and Apple make arguably the best smart hubs on the market. Each offers functionality exceeding our wildest dreams even a decade ago. But in building this future we’ve somehow lost ourselves. We find convenience in the generic, but there’s still something unnerving about talking to a device that resembles a Renuzit air freshener. While Apple feeds Siri with more jokes and Amazon adds commands ad nauseam to a device we’re really just using to order more laundry detergent, Sphero is building something truly exceptional. Each iteration of smart hubs is a…