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In 1907, beginning with a simple thought experiment involving an observer in free fall, he embarked on what would be an eight-year search for a relativistic theory of gravity.After numerous detours and false starts, his work culminated in the presentation to the Prussian Academy of Science in November 1915 of what are now known as the Einstein field equations.
The first step is the realization that classical mechanics and Newton's law of gravity admit a geometric description.
Einstein's theory has important astrophysical implications. For example, it implies the existence of black holes—regions of space in which space and time are distorted in such a way that nothing, not even light, can escape—as an end-state for massive stars.
There is ample evidence that the intense radiation emitted by certain kinds of astronomical objects is due to black holes; for example, microquasars and active galactic nuclei result from the presence of stellar black holes and supermassive black holes, respectively.
For example, an observer will see a ball fall the same way in a rocket (left) as it does on Earth (right), provided that the acceleration of the rocket is equal to 9.8 m/s At the base of classical mechanics is the notion that a body's motion can be described as a combination of free (or inertial) motion, and deviations from this free motion.
Such deviations are caused by external forces acting on a body in accordance with Newton's second law of motion, which states that the net force acting on a body is equal to that body's (inertial) mass multiplied by its acceleration.
The bending of light by gravity can lead to the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, in which multiple images of the same distant astronomical object are visible in the sky.
General relativity also predicts the existence of gravitational waves, which have since been observed directly by physics collaboration LIGO.
Slow motion computer simulation of the black hole binary system GW150914 as seen by a nearby observer, during 0.33 s of its final inspiral, merge, and ringdown.
The star field behind the black holes is being heavily distorted and appears to rotate and move, due to extreme gravitational lensing, as spacetime itself is distorted and dragged around by the rotating black holes.
Lemaître used these solutions to formulate the earliest version of the Big Bang models, in which our universe has evolved from an extremely hot and dense earlier state.
During that period, general relativity remained something of a curiosity among physical theories.
This solution laid the groundwork for the description of the final stages of gravitational collapse, and the objects known today as black holes.