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Testing General Relativity with Stellar Orbits around the Supermassive Black Hole in Our Galactic Center

Hees, A. and Do, T. and Ghez, A. M. and Martinez, G. D. and Naoz, S. and Becklin, E. E. and Boehle, A. and Chappell, S. and Chu, D. and Dehghanfar, A. and Kosmo, K. and Lu, J. R. and Matthews, K. and Morris, M. R. and Sakai, S. and Schödel, R. and Witzel, G. (2017) Testing General Relativity with Stellar Orbits around the Supermassive Black Hole in Our Galactic Center. Physical Review Letters, 118 (21). Art. No. 211101. ISSN 0031-9007.

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We demonstrate that short-period stars orbiting around the supermassive black hole in our Galactic center can successfully be used to probe the gravitational theory in a strong regime. We use 19 years of observations of the two best measured short-period stars orbiting our Galactic center to constrain a hypothetical fifth force that arises in various scenarios motivated by the development of a unification theory or in some models of dark matter and dark energy. No deviation from general relativity is reported and the fifth force strength is restricted to an upper 95% confidence limit of |α|<0.016 at a length scale of λ=150 astronomical units. We also derive a 95% confidence upper limit on a linear drift of the argument of periastron of the short-period star S0-2 of |ω_(S0-2)|<1.6×10^(-3)  rad/yr, which can be used to constrain various gravitational and astrophysical theories. This analysis provides the first fully self-consistent test of the gravitational theory using orbital dynamic in a strong gravitational regime, that of a supermassive black hole. A sensitivity analysis for future measurements is also presented.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Material
Hees, A.0000-0002-2186-644X
Do, T.0000-0001-9554-6062
Ghez, A. M.0000-0003-3230-5055
Martinez, G. D.0000-0002-7476-2521
Naoz, S.0000-0002-9802-9279
Boehle, A.0000-0003-0439-7634
Dehghanfar, A.0000-0003-0518-944X
Lu, J. R.0000-0001-9611-0009
Morris, M. R.0000-0002-6753-2066
Sakai, S.0000-0001-5972-663X
Witzel, G.0000-0003-2618-797X
Additional Information:© 2017 American Physical Society. Received 22 December 2016; revised manuscript received 14 March 2017; published 25 May 2017. A. H. thanks W. Folkner and P. Wolf for the interesting discussions. Support for this work was provided by NSF Grant No. AST-1412615, the Heising-Simon Foundation, the Levine-Leichtman Family Foundation, the Galactic Center Board of Advisors, and Janet Marott for her support of the research on S0-38 through the Galactic Center Stellar Patron Program.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Heising-Simon FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Levine-Leichtman Family FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Galactic Center Board of AdvisorsUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:21
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170525-103713870
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77755
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 May 2017 17:56
Last Modified:01 Nov 2019 20:19

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