Today, UCLA astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory reported the discovery of a remarkable star that orbits the enormous black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy in a blistering 11-and-a-half years, the shortest known orbit of any star near this black hole.
The star, known as S0-102, may help astronomers discover whether Albert Einstein was right in his fundamental prediction of how black holes warp space and time, said Andrea Ghez, leader of the discovery team and professor of physics and astronomy, who holds UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Chair in Astrophysics, and is a co-author. The research is published Oct. 5 in the journal Science.
Before this discovery, astronomers knew of only one star near the black hole with a very short orbit: S0-2, which Ghez used to call her “favorite star” and whose orbit is 16 years. (The “S” is for Sagittarius, the constellation containing the galactic center; its name is Latin for the archer.)