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7th of February 2020
Astronomical detection of the Lense-Thirring effect
by V.V. Krishnan et al.
In 1918, two Austrian scientists, Josef Lense and Hans Thirring, proposed that if Einstein's General Relativity was right then spinning objects, including Earth, should twist and drag the fabric of spacetime. The phenomenon, known as the Lense-Thirring effect or frame-dragging, is usually too small to detect, but has been demonstrated in an experiment that measured the subtle movements of gyroscopes placed into space above Earth. Astronomers monitoring a binary system containing a pulsar and a white dwarf with the Parkes radio telescope have now detected the effect. In the PSR J1141-6545 system, the effect is 100 million times stronger than it is above the Earth. The spinning pulsar and white dwarf orbit each other every five hours and the regular radio pulses from the pulsar allow the evolution of the binary system to to traced in exquisite detail. The results are presented in a paper published in the journal Science.

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