Pulsar Heavyweight Champ Challenges Einstein
The densest objects in the universe have a new heavyweight champion: a pulsar so small that it could nearly fit onto the island of Manhattan but weighs in at 2.04 times the mass of the sun. The pulsar could be used to help test Einstein’s theory of general relativity – but its very existence could put that theory in jeopardy.
According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity works, the two bodies excite strong ripples in spacetime – gravitational waves – as they spiral towards each other. Although gravitational waves haven’t been directly observed yet, we have strong evidence that they exist. Studying pulsar binary systems could be a good way to observe them and check that the predictions of general relativity are true.