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The hole truth

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 116-119
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6525.116

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Summary

Fantastical though it may seem, scientists can now study black holes as real objects, exploiting techniques that have come to fruition in just the past 5 years. But are they really seeing the mysterious, featureless pits in space and time predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of gravity, general relativity? Could these objects be something else, instead, perhaps some ultradense dark material orbs? Scientists hope to find out by studying ripples in space set off when pairs of the objects spiral together and merge, further imaging the shadow of the supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy, and by tracing stars whizzing around the center of our own Galaxy. Any sign that general relativity is wrong, and that these things are not the knots of pure gravity predicted by the theory, would revolutionize physics.

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