Newfound star system 'can reveal secrets of gravity'

Posted Jan 6, 2014 by Cameron Christner
Scientists have discovered a triple star system that is expected to refute Einstein's theories on gravity, as well as give new insight into gravity's true nature.
The triple star system discovery is one of only two unique millisecond pulsars.
The triple star system discovery is one of only two unique millisecond pulsars.
The system is made up of a pulsar, orbited very closely by a white dwarf, with a second white dwarf orbiting the pair.
A pulsar is formed after a supernova, when a star is condensed into a highly magnetized ball of neutrons. Pulsars emit radio waves that can be picked up by technology on Earth.
This particular pulsar is unique in that it is one of only two known millisecond pulsars, spinning nearly 366 times per second, allowing precise study of gravitational effects and the theories that try to explain them.
The famous experiment with spheres of different weights, performed by Galileo and explained by Einstein's equivalence principle, may now be in question, as scientists find it incompatible with modern quantum theory.
The theory states that gravity does not change depending on the weight of an object, as shown when Galileo dropped two spheres of different weight, and saw them hit the ground at the same time.
The newly discovered triple star system will allow scientists to see if Einstein's theories hold up under extreme conditions. Any dissimilarity could disprove the theory.
"Finding a deviation would indicate a breakdown of general relativity and point us toward a new, correct theory of gravity," said Professor Ingrid Stairs from the University of British Columbia.
Without a doubt, this new discovery will shed new light on how gravity works in our universe, and perhaps change long-standing beliefs, opening up a whole new range of possibilities.