Home » News & Blogs » A dead star's spin is dragging the fabric of spacetime along with it
Bookmark and Share
Bad Astronomy

A dead star's spin is dragging the fabric of spacetime along with it

4 Feb 2020, 14:00 UTC
A dead star's spin is dragging the fabric of spacetime along with it
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

After observing a binary system of two dead stars for 20 years, astronomers have detected the very subtle effect of Einstein's hand: Frame-dragging, an outcome of General Relativity where a rapidly spinning massive object literally drags the fabric of spacetime around it, winding it up like a thread around a spindle.

Every single step of this science is bizarre and astonishing and oh-so-cool. Let's go through 'em.

The binary system is a pulsar (called PSR J1141-6545) and a white dwarf orbiting each other. A white dwarf is the leftover core of a star similar to the Sun after it dies. It sheds its outer layers, revealing the hot dense core: A ball the size of the Earth but with the mass of a star.

A pulsar is similar, but colossally more violent. It's the leftover core of a much more massive star that has exploded as a supernova. The explosion ejects the outer layers rapidly and catastrophically, while the core collapses to become a ball of neutrons maybe 20 kilometers across but even more massive than a white dwarf. We call such an object a neutron star. They sometimes emit beams of radiation from their poles, and as they spin ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod