Science & Tech

Scientists confirm that the most iconic black hole in the universe is spinning, in major new discovery

Scientists confirm that the most iconic black hole in the universe is spinning, in major new discovery
NASA video shows just how terrifyingly vast black holes are
ZMG - Amaze Lab / VideoElephant

Scientists have confirmed that the first black hole to ever be captured on camera is spinning in a major new discovery.

The famous doughnut-shaped M87* black hole, 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun, first drew people’s attention in 2019 for becoming the first void to be pictured.

Now, it has been confirmed that the M87* black hole is spinning, but experts have yet to determine just how fast. The announcement was made on 27 September.

M87* has been observed for the last two decades via a network of radio telescopes. It is located in the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, which is around 55 million light-years away from Earth in the Virgo constellation.

The instruments monitoring the black hole have observed a powerful jet of radiation and particles being expelled from its poles. According to research, the relativistic jets appeared to be on a kind of pendulum that swings every 11 years, observed over decades.

Experts believe this is caused by interactions between gravitational interactions between the black hole and the material making up the disk around it. They say this provides “unequivocal evidence” that the black hole is spinning.

Cui Yuzhu, a researcher at Zhejiang Lab in China and the study’s lead author explained in a statement: “We are thrilled by this significant finding,” adding, “Since the misalignment between the black hole and the disk is relatively small and the precession period is around 11 years, accumulating high-resolution data tracing M87’s structure over two decades and thorough analysis are essential to obtain this achievement.”

Their findings matched with computer simulations, confirming that the jets emitting from the black hole change direction by around 10 degrees every 11 years.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)