The Guardian reports that scientists discovered a spinning supermassive black hole located 55m light years from Earth. The black hole in question is located at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, and has been aptly named M87. Imaging for M87 was gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope network between 2000 and 2022, and revealed a recurring 11-year cycle that involves the black hole spinning around in space like spinning top.
What remains to be seen, however, is if there are other black holes that spin in a similar fashion, or if M87 is the exception to the rule.
For the first time ever, scientists have confirmed with a high degree of certainty that the M87’s cosmic jets are powered by the supermassive black hole’s spin, which marks the first time that scientists have been able to confirm this line of thinking. Up until this discovery was made, scientists could only speculate that the black hole was spinning, but the most recent data all but confirms its rotation.
M87 boasts a size of 6.5 billion times the mass of our own sun, which is enough to snap your mind in half just thinking about its imposing size. And this new study is exciting because it provides insight on the nature of supermassive black holes that has yet to be explored. One point of interest, as stated by UCL astrophysicist Dr. Ziri Younsi, is the events that led up to the formation of M87.
Scientists Theorize What Caused The Black Hole To Spin
Some cosmic event that occurred in the distant past has to be responsible for M87’s motion, but as of this writing, your guess is as good as ours.
Younsi has reason to believe that the black hole is spinning with a wobble as a result of some form of violent cosmic event that has yet to be identified. He remains hopeful that further research will allow scientists to eventually understand what went into the formation of this elusive sinkhole of empty space. What remains to be seen, however, is if there are other black holes that spin in a similar fashion, or if M87 is the exception to the rule.
In addition to the discovery that the M87 black hole is spinning, researchers have discovered a massive swirling accretion disk of cosmic gas and dust located at its edges. The prevailing theory among scientists is that some of these swirling materials will be consumed by the black hole, but a fraction will be ejected from the poles at nearly the speed of light.
The materials are producing a powerful magnetic field that has a synergistic relationship with the supermassive black hole and is powered by M87’s spin.
For the first time ever, scientists have confirmed with a high degree of certainty that the M87’s cosmic jets are powered by the supermassive black hole’s spin.
Being that the discovery of this spinning black hole is the first of its kind, more research has to be conducted. But now that we confirmed that M87 is indeed spinning, our understanding of how black holes function, and what their overall function is in our universe will hopefully be revealed through further research.
Black holes have been the subject of science-fiction for as long as we’ve known about their presence. Though they continue to elude researchers, this discovery brings us one step closer to solving the puzzle that is our vast and expansive network of solar systems and galaxies.