Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In space, would it be possible to have an object generating such a huge gravitational force so it would be possible for an observer (not affected directly by gravitational force and the space time distortion) to see some visual distortions (bending) on another small object placed near it ?

(eg : a building on a very huge planet would have his lower base having a different size than the roof).

We assume that object would not collapse on himself because of the important gravitational force.

share|improve this question
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Of course! This is exactly what we see in images of gravitational lensing, where enormous clusters of galaxies bend the light from other galaxies around themselves.

This bending of light was also one of the first lines of evidence that supports Einstein's General Relativity, where we observed our own Sun bending the light from other stars during an eclipse.

More theoretically (but still possible), if we place a long rod near a black hole (pointing toward it), the rod would appear distorted to a distant observer, and the inner tip of the rod would appear more red.

share|improve this answer
add comment

To elaborate a bit: when Einstein published the General Relativity papers, he included a calculation of the precession of the orbit of Mercury which showed GR made up for the rest of the corrections needed to account for the observed values, which was the first empirical evidence for GR. As a second piece of evidence, Einstein proposed using a solar eclipse to test precisely for gravitational lensing and included a calculation of the effect. (Two calculations, in fact - the first was off by a factor of 2 but he fixed it in time.)

This was verified by Eddington's expedition to Principe in 1919, which showed that stars near an eclipse are in fact shifted from where they ought to be in a Newtonian universe.

To highlight just how strange this is, here's the New York Times headlines reporting on the event:

NYT headline from post-1919 eclipse discovery

share|improve this answer
add comment

This answer may not fully qualify because it is not seen from afar, but when we observe tides we are basically seeing a huge gravitational force (the moon and sun) causing visible distortions on an object (the ocean).

share|improve this answer
add comment

Also, a neutron star, itself, is an example of this effect--it's gravity is so strong that it causes matter to begin to collapse, and protons and electrons to combine via reverse beta decay. Anything less dense than a nucleus sitting on the surface of a neutron star will eventually find itself smashed flat on the star's surface.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.