For a long period of time, astronomers have used different methods to calculate weight of a star and now, researchers from NASA have revealed that Einstein’s theory of general relativity can be used to calculate mass of white dwarf stars.
According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, really large objects in space can influence space and time which is responsible for the gravity of earth. In addition to explaining the gravity, the theory also explains how light curves around different objects behind the light. Astronomers used this feature of light to predict mass of distant stars.
In order to find out if the theory can be used to calculate the mass of a star, scientists used the Hubble telescope to observe white dwarf star Stein 2051B when 2051B was passing in front of a distant star. Interestingly, the star was responsible for bending the light from the star and scientists used the difference between observed position and actual position of the star to calculate the mass of 2051B. To their surprise, the calculated mass of 2051B using this method matched the previous predictions.
The scientists responsible for this discovery observed the white dwarf for more than two years as it passed the background star. During last two years, scientists managed to record the observations seven times and measured the movements of the star carefully to measure the mass of the white dwarf. Scientists responded that the microlensing measuring technique is highly dependable. We have to wait and see how the latest technique of measuring mass of a star creates path to bigger discoveries.
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