After 22 years of intense observation, a research team has discovered the secret of the black hole M87*. But the mystery has not yet been completely solved.
HANGZHOU – In 2019, black hole M87* suddenly became famous thanks to an impressive photo. Using a method called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), scientists were able to visualize the shadow of a black hole for the first time. This image marked a turning point in astronomy, which was quickly followed by an image of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy (SgrA*). But despite their ability to image black holes, they remain mysterious celestial objects.
“After successfully imaging the black hole in this galaxy using the EHT, the question of whether this black hole is rotating or not has become a major concern for scientists,” says Kazuhiro Hada of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. According to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, supermassive black holes like M87* can spin but also remain stationary.
|In the center of the galaxy M87|
|About 55 million light-years away|
|6.5 billion solar masses|
|60,000 light years away|
Black hole M87*: very difficult to observe
The biggest challenge in research: Direct observation of black holes is very difficult because they swallow everything that comes close to them. Even the light that comes from one Black hole It gets sucked in, and can no longer escape – so black holes are practically invisible. Therefore, science was only able to visualize the shadow of the black hole and the light of matter moving in an accretion disk around the black hole.
However, an international research team led by Chinese researcher Yuzhou Cui (Zhejiang Laboratory) appears to have been able to detect the rotation of the black hole M87*. “Prediction has become certainty. This monster black hole is already spinning,” says enthusiastic researcher Hada in one. notice.
More than 20 radio telescopes observed the black hole M87*
Over the course of 22 years, the research team has observed the M87* black hole using more than 20 radio telescopes around the world. This has enabled scientists to analyze changes in the so-called jet in more detail. An airplane is a powerful beam of matter and energy. Which is thrown into space by a black hole.
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Indeed: The research team found that the plane changes direction and flips approximately every 11 years. In the study, scientists showed that the movement of the jets is linked to the supermassive black hole – the rotating black hole M87*. “We are excited about this important finding,” explains Cui, the study’s lead author. In the specialized magazine nature Published study.
However, the study cannot answer all questions related to the black hole. For example, it is still unclear how fast a black hole rotates around its axis, and what the structure of an accretion disk around a celestial body looks like. However, further observations could clarify these questions as well. (unpaid bill)
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