Einstein’s theory of relativity – the combination of his general and special relativity theories – dictates that all photons must move at the speed of light. A photon is the carrier of electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths, including gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, microwaves, and radio waves. This theory has stood the test of time over the last century, with no challengers.
The Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescope sited at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands has found that gamma radiation emitted from a distant galaxy arrived at earth four minutes after lower-energy photons, despite apparently being emitted at the same time.
If this information is correct – and Daniel Ferenc, a physics professor at UC Davis and a member of the MAGIC collaboration says that a repeat performance will be needed to confirm such a finding – then the findings are in direct contradiction to Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Ferenc says that everybody at the MAGIC collaboration are “…very excited," and that they will now try to find a new source to test this theory on.
The current source of their findings is Markarian 501, a galaxy more than 300 million light years from earth with a “blazer” – a very compact and highly variable energy source associated with a supermassive black hole at the center of a host galaxy.
Part of the blazer includes a relativistic jet – an extremely powerful jet of plasma – that shoot out, amongst other things, gamma rays; the likes of which Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four never encountered. These jets can be carried as many tens of kiloparsecs from the central black hole, and are the focus of the MAGIC’s collaboration.
Joined by John Ellis from CERN – the world’s largest physics laboratory – who headed up a team of theoretical physicists, the MAGIC team were able to determine that low and high-energy emissions appeared to have been emitted at the same time. After traveling through space for some 300 million years, the high-energy emissions were late by four minutes.
Posted by Josh Hill.
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