The news that Einstein’s theory of general relativity will be tested by using Fast Radio Bursts from space, more specifically the principle of equivalence that stands at the base of said theory, couldn’t have come at a better time. This is because this year marks the 100th year anniversary of Albert Einstein’s greatest theory.
Although this principle has already been intensely studied, since it was first introduced in theoretical astrophysics, with the use of gamma ray emissions, using FRBs is 100 times better than the previous testing methods. The full paper regarding this discovery was published in the journal Physical Review Letters and was even chosen as an Editor Highlight due to its immense potential.
FRBs are extremely brief bursts of particles that are caused by mysterious events which happen across our galaxy, and in some rare occasions, they can even be picked up from distant galaxy clusters. Because they only last a few milliseconds, only about 20 of them have been picked up by our research teams.
But that will change because we now know exactly what we are looking for and can customize our equipment in order to better suit FRB detection accordingly. These bursts are comprised of electromagnetic radiation in the form of photons, just like visible light, and their frequency is at the same range as normal radio signals.
Einstein’s Principle of Equivalence states that two photons with different frequencies will not arrive at different times at a specific location, as long as they are the same in regards to time and point of origin and pass through the same gravitational fields. Because FRB origination points are extremely far from us, analyzing them will prove this principle’s accuracy, as well as letting scientists see how different physical effects, other than gravitational fields, affect their time of arrival.
The first tests will be conducted by comparing the gamma parameter difference in frequency between two FRB photons. This study will become even more accurate as our detection technology advances. With better equipment, Einstein’s principle can either be proven completely or disproven, leading to a complete overhaul of our current knowledge in regards to theoretical astrophysics.
By using the future advancements in detection technology, scientists will also be able to use FRBs as a type of probe when looking at distant galaxies. The space between galactic bodies, as well as the universe’s cosmic web structure, can also be further studied upon. Our knowledge of fundamental physics will also go through the same tests as the aforementioned elements, urging its alteration if unexpected results begin to surface.
After Einstein’s theory of general relativity will be tested by using Fast Radio Bursts, our general knowledge of the universe may be put to the test as well, depending on what research teams will find. Only after further inquiries are made on the subject, from a theoretical point of view, as well as bigger advancements in the field of technology are made, we will be able to better understand the way in which our universe functions on a daily basis.