10 discoveries that prove Einstein was right about the universe — and 1 that proves him wrong

After being published more than a century ago, Albert Einstein's ideas of relativity have been repeatedly shown to be accurate.

Albert Einstein, a renowned scientist, was a scholar who was ahead of his time. Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, into an universe where the dwarf planet Pluto was still undiscovered and space travel was still only a faraway fantasy. Despite the technological limitations of the period, Einstein released his renowned theory of general relativity in 1915. This theory contained predictions about the nature of the cosmos that would repeatedly be confirmed to be true for more than a century.

Here are ten recent findings that demonstrate Einstein was correct about the structure of the universe a century ago, along with one finding that contradicts his theory.

1. the first black hole picture

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravity is a result of space-time warping; in other words, the more substantial an object is, the more space-time it will curve, causing smaller objects to descend toward it. Black holes are huge objects that distort space-time so drastically that not even light can escape them, according to the theory, which also forecasts their presence.

Einstein was proven to be correct about a number of details when researchers using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) captured the first-ever image of a black hole. They discovered that every black hole has an event horizon, which should be roughly circular and have a predictable size based on the black hole's mass. This forecast was confirmed to be accurate by the ground-breaking black hole picture from the EHT.

2. "Echos" from black holes

When astronomers noticed a peculiar pattern of X-rays being released close to a black hole 800 million light-years from Earth, they knew that Einstein's ideas about black holes were accurate once more. The team observed the anticipated "luminous echoes" of X-ray light, which were released behind the black hole but still visible from Earth because of how the black hole twisted space-time around it, in addition to the expected X-ray emissions flashing from the front of the black hole.

3. Grazing waves

Huge rippling in the fabric of space-time known as gravity waves is another phenomenon explained by Einstein's general theory of relativity. These waves are the outcome of collisions between the heaviest celestial bodies, such as neutron stars and black holes. In 2015, scientists used a specialized detector called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) to prove the presence of gravitational waves. Since then, scores of additional gravitational wave examples have been discovered, further demonstrating Einstein's correctness.

4. Partners in wobbly dark holes

Gravitational waves can be studied to learn more about the huge, far-off objects that produced them. Physics experts verified that the massive objects wobbled — or precessed — in their trajectories as they drifted ever closer to one another in 2022 by analyzing the gravitational waves released by a pair of slowly merging binary black holes.

5. A moving star on a spirograph

After 27 years of research, scientists were able to observe Einstein's theory of precession in motion once more as a star orbited a giant black hole. The star's trajectory was observed to "dance" forward in a rosette pattern after finishing two complete orbits around the black hole as opposed to traveling in a constant elliptical path. Einstein's theories about how an incredibly tiny object should orbit around a relatively enormous one were verified by this movement.

6. A neutron star that drags its frames

Not only black holes, but also the incredibly dense remains of deceased stars, can cause space-time to curve around them. Scientists examined the orbits of a neutron star and a white dwarf (two different kinds of collapsed, dead stars) for the preceding 20 years in 2020 and discovered a long-term drift in the two objects' orbits. The researchers hypothesized that this drift was likely brought on by a phenomenon known as frame dragging, in which the white dwarf pulled on space-time just enough to gradually change the neutron star's trajectory. Once more, this supports the forecasts made by Einstein's theory of relativity.

7. A gravity telescopic lens

Einstein proposed that a suitably massive object should cause space-time to bend, magnifying faraway light coming from behind the object (as seen from Earth). Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon that has been widely used to hold a magnifying glass up to things in the deep cosmos. The gravitational lensing effect of a galaxy cluster located 4.6 billion light-years away was famously used in the James Webb Space Telescope's first deep field picture to greatly magnify light from galaxies located more than 13 billion light-years away.

8. Adorn it with an Einstein band.

Gravitational lensing can take many different forms, but one of them is so striking that scientists had to give it Einstein's name. Scientists refer to a "Einstein ring" as the perfect halo that results when a faraway object's light is amplified and wrapped around a large nearby object. These magnificent things can be found all over space and have been photographed by both professional observers and amateur researchers.

9. The evolving cosmos

Redshift is the term for the various ways in which the wavelength of light changes and expands as it moves through the cosmos. The universe's growth is the most well-known cause of redshift. In order to explain this apparent growth in his other calculations, Einstein suggested a number known as the cosmological constant. A different kind of "gravitational redshift," which happens when light loses energy while leaving a hollow in space-time made by heavy objects like galaxies, was also foreseen by Einstein. A examination of the radiation from millions of far-off galaxies in 2011 established the existence of gravitational redshift, as predicted by Einstein.

10. Atoms in motion

It appears that Einstein's ideas also hold true in the quantum world. According to relativity, the speed of light is fixed in a vacuum, so space ought to appear uniform from all angles. When scientists measured the energy of two electrons traveling in opposite paths around an atom's nucleus in 2015, they demonstrated that this phenomenon holds true even at the tiniest scales. No matter which way the electrons traveled, the energy gap between them stayed constant, supporting that aspect of Einstein's theory.

11. Is "spooky action-at-a-distance" incorrect?

Linking particles can appear to interact with one another over great distances faster than the speed of light in a process known as quantum entanglement, but they only "choose" a state to exist once they are detected. Known for deriding this occurrence as "spooky action-at-a-distance," Einstein maintained that no effect can travel faster than the speed of light and that things have a state whether or not we can observe it.

However, in a large-scale, international experiment in which millions of entangled particles were detected all over the world, scientists discovered that the particles appeared to choose a condition only at the time of measurement and no earlier.

According to Morgan Mitchell, a professor of quantum optics at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain, "we showed that Einstein's world-view... in which things have properties whether or not you observe them, and no influence travels faster than light, cannot be true — at least one of those things must be false," he said to Live Science in 2018.