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October 6 2012 (updated October 7 2012)

Speedy Star Found Near Black Hole May Test Einstein Theory


A star has been discovered speeding closely around the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, a new study says. The finding offers the tantalizing possibility of testing Einstein's general theory of relativity on the grandest of scales.

The faint star, called S0-102, orbits the black hole in 11.2 years, making it the closest large object known in the vicinity of our galaxy's superdense center. The star travels at speeds of up to 6,600 miles (10,600 kilometers) per second and is in a stable, if changeable, orbit.

S0-102 is only the second star identified as being in short orbit around the Milky Way's black hole—the other, S0-2, takes about 16 years.

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