Artist’s impression of the pulsar PSR J0348+0432 and its white dwarf companion.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada.
Astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope, along with radio telescopes around the world, to find and study a bizarre stellar pair consisting of the most massive neutron star confirmed so far, orbited by a white dwarf star. This strange new binary allows tests of Einstein’s theory of gravity — general relativity — in ways that were not possible up to now. So far the new observations exactly agree with the predictions from general relativity and are inconsistent with some alternative theories. The results appeared in the journal Science on 26 April 2013.