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Gravity Probe B

Testing Einstein's Universe

Special & General Relativity Questions and Answers

As you approach the speed of light does the universe seem to disappear into a bright point of light ahead of you?

So far as I understand the relativistic effects, as you look along your direction of travel, you will see stars directly ahead of you get strongly blue-shifted, and directly behind you the stars will be redshifted. There will be a growing distortion of where the images are in the sense that stars ahead of you will seem to slide to a point directly ahead of you, and behind you a dark zone will expand within which the stars are completely shifted out of the visual band and no longer have any emission to detect at optical wavelengths.

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All answers are provided by Dr. Sten Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for the NASA Astronomy Cafe, part of the NASA Education and Public Outreach program.