ISRO, NASA just spotted a black hole spinning so fast that it could be making space itself rotate
- India’s AstroSat and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory have confirmed the discovery of a black hole spinning close to the maximum possible speed.
- A black hole spinning that fast can make space itself rotate according to Einstein’s theory of relativity.
- In comparison, the Milky Way's own supermassive black hole moves much slower hardly taking in any energy around it.
- This black hole is only one of five to have an accurately measured high spin rate.
- Researchers hypothesise that this could be the key to understanding how galaxies are formed.
In comparison, the Milky Way's own supermassive black hole — Sagittarius A* — is relatively inactive. It moves at a much slower speed. While observing it using infrared, the black hole flickers every now and then as it takes in dust as gas. NASA initially estimated that Sagittarius A* was only taking in 1% of the energy that comes it away only to realise that its consumption is even lower at 1% of that 1%.
In 2016, India's first dedicated astronomy satellite, the AstroSat, first spotted the black hole in the binary star system called 4U 1630-47, which is bursting out X-rays that astronomers found unusual. NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory later confirmed the outburst.
In fact, according to NASA this particular black hole is spinning very close to the limit set by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, according to Rodrigo Nemmen, the lead author on the research paper. That means it is spinning close to the speed of light.
Spinning to break barriers
Currently, scientists only have two ways of measuring black holes - either by their mass or by their spin rate. A spin rate can be anywhere between 0 and 1: this black hole was spinning at the rate of 0.9.
Einstein's theory further implies that if a black hole spinning that fast, then it is capable of making space itself rotate.
In fact, if the conditions around black holes are hypothesised to be correct, then the high spin rate coupled with the gaseous elements entering the black hole and high temperatures, could be the key to understanding how galaxies are formed.
Including the black hole discovered by the AstroSat, there are only five black holes have accurately measured high spin rates. Even if you're not taking spin rates into account, this black hole of one of only 20 others that have been spotted in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Indian Space Research Organisation's ( ISRO) AstroSat along with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Chandra X-Ray Observatory have confirmed the speed of the spinning black hole.
The study was conducted by researchers from multiple institutions led by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
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