Scientists reliably measure a supermassive black hole’s spin for the first time

Feb 28, 2013
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Scientists reliably measure a supermassive black hole’s spin for the first time

Out of all of the amazing wonders and phenomenon in space, one of the most amazing and perplexing is the black hole. A black hole has incredibly strong gravitational pull capturing everything from rock and gas to light. Nothing escapes a black hole.

Scientists have studied black holes for years in an attempt to understand how they are created and how they work. Astronomers have announced that they have made the first reliable measurement of a supermassive black hole's spin. The black hole the scientists studied is at the center of a spiral galaxy called NGC 1365.

According to the scientists, this gigantic black hole is spinning at about 84% of the speed that Einstein's general theory of relativity will allow. The discovery shows that some giant supermassive black hole's are spinning very quickly. This discovery confirms studies in the past that had hypothesized black holes spun very quickly.

Those previous studies were unable to confirm the speedy rotation of the target black hole. NGC 1365 is 56 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy is located in the constellation Fornax, and the black hole in its center is more massive than several million suns. This particular black hole is also known to spew huge amounts of energy as it gobbles up gas and other objects nearby. The scientists used the high-energy light emitted by iron atoms consumed by the black hole to trace the motion of the flat, rotating accretion disk that circles the black hole.

[via Space.com]


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