Astronomers have found direct evidence of a spinning black hole for the first time.
The discovery was made by studying powerful jets of energy emitted from the first black hole ever photographed by humanity, which is located at the heart of the neighboring galaxy Messier 87.
Scientists had long believed that the rotation of a black hole drives these jets, but only now has the theory been proven.
This is an “exciting” advance that reinforces Einstein’s theory of relativity and could help unravel the mystery of the most enigmatic objects in the universe.
M87 is a radio galaxy located 55 million light years from Earth that has a supermassive black hole 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun at its center.
Discovery: Astronomers have found direct evidence of a spinning black hole for the first time
Spinning: The discovery was made by studying powerful jets of energy emitted from the first black hole ever photographed by humanity, which is located at the heart of the neighboring galaxy Messier 87. According to experts, the research found that one of these jets preceded or It oscillated around a central point at the edge of the black hole, like a top (pictured).
WHAT ARE BLACK HOLES?
Black holes are so dense and their gravitational pull is so strong that no form of radiation can escape them, not even light.
They act as intense sources of gravity that suck in dust and gas from around them. Its intense gravitational pull is believed to be the object around which the stars of galaxies orbit.
How they are formed is still not well understood. Astronomers believe they may form when a large cloud of gas up to 100,000 times larger than the sun collapses into a black hole.
Many of these black hole seeds then merge to form much larger supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of every known massive galaxy.
Alternatively, the seed of a supermassive black hole could come from a giant star, about 100 times the mass of the Sun, which eventually becomes a black hole after running out of fuel and collapsing.
When these giant stars die, they also become ‘supernova’, a huge explosion that expels matter from the star’s outer layers into deep space.
This was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) four years ago and described as a fuzzy orange ‘donut’, only to be renamed a ‘thin ring’ when the image was enhanced by artificial intelligence.
“After the success of imaging the black hole in this galaxy with the EHT, whether this black hole is spinning or not has been a central concern among scientists,” said Dr. Kazuhiro Hada of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. and co-author of the study. new study.
‘Now anticipation has turned into certainty. In fact, this monstrous black hole is spinning.’
Black holes have such a powerful gravitational pull that nothing can escape their clutches, not even light.
However, that doesn’t mean they can’t see each other.
This is because they are surrounded by a swirling accretion disk of gas and dust just at the edge of the black hole’s event horizon.
Some of this material (released from gas clouds and stars) is swallowed by the black hole, but a small amount is also absorbed. ejected at more than 99.99 percent of the speed of light.
Scientists had previously predicted that the black hole’s spin could be to blame for this astrophysical jet, which was first observed in 1918.
They theorized that the charged particles in the accretion disk produced a strong magnetic field that was then so agitated by the rotating black hole that the particles were ejected as jets of energy.
With the help of data from a global network of radio telescopes from the period 2000-2022, researchers have revealed that the jet appears to swing like a pendulum on an 11-year cycle.
According to experts, it was found to be preceding or wobbling around a central point at the edge of the black hole, like a top.
“The detection of this precession provides unequivocal evidence that the M87 supermassive black hole is indeed spinning, thus improving our understanding of the nature of supermassive black holes,” the authors stated.
Analysis: With the help of data from a global network of radio telescopes from the period 2000-2022, experts have revealed that the jet appears to swing like a pendulum in an 11-year cycle.
Stunning: Supermassive black hole M87 was imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) four years ago and described as a fuzzy orange ‘donut’ (pictured), only to be renamed ‘thin ring’ when the image was enhanced by artificial intelligence
Correct again! The results are not only consistent with theoretical supercomputer simulations but also fit with theoretical predictions made by Einstein in his theory of general relativity.
Lead author Cui Yuzhu, an astronomer at the Zhejiang Laboratory in Hangzhou, China, added: “We are delighted with this important find.
“Since the misalignment between the black hole and the disk is relatively small and the precession period is about 11 years, the accumulation of high-resolution data tracking the structure of M87 over two decades and comprehensive analysis are essential to achieve this achievement.”
The results are not only consistent with theoretical supercomputer simulations, but also coincide with theoretical predictions made by Einstein in his theory of general relativity.
Researchers hope their discovery can help shed light on how black holes form and then evolve into the giants we see today.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE MESSIER 87 GALAXY?
The elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is home to several billion stars, a supermassive black hole, and a family of approximately 15,000 globular star clusters.
For comparison, our Milky Way galaxy contains only a few hundred billion stars and about 150 globular clusters.
The monstrous M87 is the dominant member of the neighboring Virgo galaxy cluster, which contains about 2,000 galaxies.
Discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier, this galaxy is located 54 million light years from Earth in the constellation of Virgo.
It can be easily observed with a small telescope and the most spectacular views are available in May.
The elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is home to several billion stars, a supermassive black hole, and a family of approximately 15,000 globular star clusters. This Hubble image is a combination of individual observations in visible and infrared light.
The most striking features of M87 are the blue jet near the center and the myriad star-shaped globular clusters scattered throughout the image.
The jet is a black hole-driven stream of material that is being ejected from the core of M87.
As gaseous material from the center of the galaxy accumulates in the black hole, the released energy produces a stream of subatomic particles that accelerate to speeds close to the speed of light.
At the center of the Virgo cluster, M87 may have accumulated some of its many globular clusters by gravitationally pulling them from nearby dwarf galaxies that today appear to be devoid of such clusters.