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Speed of Gravity

  1. Oct 19, 2007 #1
    The Chandra observatory has just found a big black hole and a massive star in a binary orbit pattern.

    This got me to thinking about Einstein's suggestion that the effects of gravity travel at the speed of light. Maybe that's already a proven theory -- I don't know. I know they've measured it using pulsars, Jupiter, and a few other things.

    But it seems to me that you could test that assertion using the light from the star, as it passes the black hole and lights up the surrounding gas in the following way:

    These objects pull on each other, deforming them from being perfect spheres. As they orbit, the aspect of those irregular shapes change, which should change the path of the photons being emitted by the star. A photon leaving the star should be bent by the gravity of the black hole. But since that black hole is both asymetric and moving, as the photons get further from the star, the gravitational pull on them changes -- not just because the black hole is moving, but because its shape is changing.

    Is it possible to watch the path of light rays coming from the star (by their fluourescing effects on the gas) and measure how fast the changing aspect of the black hole affects the light being emitted by the star? Is this even a valid premise?

  2. jcsd
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