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Black Hole in Galaxy Next Door Has a Wobble So That Proves it’s Spinning


Thanks to advances in technology, astronomers caught “the first direct evidence of a black hole spinning.” That was another “I told you so” for Albert Einstein. Since it isn’t easy to figure out what’s going on inside something which isn’t even technically still inside our universe, “The discovery was made by studying powerful jets of energy.

Our neighbor’s hole is spinning

Just about every galaxy, including our own Milky Way, has at least one black hole in the center. One of our galactic next door neighbors is the Messier 87 galaxy.

It’s massive singularity providing gravitational stability is named M87 and it wobbles like a Weeble. They know that by getting a good look at the laser show it puts on.

Back in 2019, M87 became the first singularity to ever be directly imaged. It’s signature “donut hole” shadow is “crowned by a fuzzy halo of light.

Better images got a better look at that halo. What the astronomers and astrophysicists saw matches what Albert guessed long ago. Black holes spin. While it’s been suspected for nearly a century, proving it isn’t easy.

Kazuhiro Hada, an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan explains that after the success of black hole imaging in this galaxy with the Event Horizon Telescope, trying to figure out whether it’s spinning or not “has been a central concern among scientists.

That “anticipation has turned into certainty.” Yep, it’s spinning like a top but not as stable as a gyroscope.


Nothing can escape

The thing about black holes that gives astronomers headaches is the fact they have “such a powerful gravitational pull that nothing (not even light) can escape their maws.” While the hole itself can’t be seen, the stuff falling into them lights up like a Christmas tree.

Active black holes are surrounded by accretion disks — vast plumes of material stripped from gas clouds and stars, heated to red-hot temperatures by friction as it spirals into the black holes’ mouths.

Some of that glowing matter gets spewed out in a pair of plasma jets shooting out of the poles. Some can get flung out of the hole’s general vicinity at 99.9% the speed of light. The only way a black hole can “acquire the enormous energy needed to do this” is by spinning.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity suggests “the material could get it from the cosmic monsters’ magnetic fields, if they were spinning rapidly on their axes.

After using “a global network of radio telescopes” to spend two full years observing M87, they noticed “that the black hole’s jets were ticking back and forth like metronomes marking out an 11-year cycle.” There is only one possible explanation for such behavior.

This showed that the black hole was precessing or wobbling on its axis as it rotated, just like a spinning top.” The astronomers are jumping for joy. “We are thrilled by this significant finding,” lead author Cui Yuzhu, an astronomer at Zhejiang Lab in Hangzhou, China, said in a statement.

What do you think?

Written by Mark Megahan

Mark Megahan is a resident of Morristown, Arizona and aficionado of the finer things in life.

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