Researchers from the AstroSat and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have discovered a black hole spinning so fast that it is capable of making space rotate. The discovery could help scientists understand how galaxies form.
High-speed black hole
It was in 2016 that the Indian satellite AstroSat first discovered the black hole, 10 times the mass of the Sun, bursting out X-rays in the 4U 1630-47 star system. The discovery was eventually confirmed by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Researchers found that X-rays were the result of dust and gas falling into the black hole spinning at a high speed.
Scientists measure the spin rate of a black hole and determine its value to be anywhere between 0 and 1. This particular black hole was recorded as having a spin rate in excess of 0.9, bringing it very close to breaching the limit set by the theory of relativity. Such a high spin rate also raises the possibility that the black hole could rotate space. At present, only five black holes have been discovered to have such high spin rates, including this one.
“Such measurements, especially of the spin rate, are very difficult to make, and can be done only by high-quality X-ray observations in the correct state of the binary stellar system, in which the black hole is gobbling matter from its companion star,” Mayukh Pahari, an astronomer at the University of Southampton in the UK, said to India Today.
AstroSat detected the black hole through the SXT X-ray telescope on board. India is the only Asian country other than Japan to have developed an X-ray telescope. The success of the joint collaboration between U.S. and Indian scientists in discovering the high-spin-rate black hole is expected to strengthen prospects of more such joint projects in the future.
Importance of high spin rate black holes
“In the center of a black hole is a gravitational singularity, a one-dimensional point which contains a huge mass in an infinitely small space, where density and gravity become infinite and space-time curves infinitely, and where the laws of physics as we know them cease to operate,” according to The Physics of the Universe.
This singularity remains hidden behind the event horizon, a one-way boundary of space-time that surrounds the black hole. Since even light cannot escape the area, human beings are incapable of perceiving the singularity. However, high spin rate black holes provide hope to understand this mystery. If a black hole’s spin were to exceed the value of 1, the event horizon would be thrown off and the singularity would be revealed. Such a discovery would also overthrow our ideas of physics.
The perception and eventual understanding of the singularity will change humanity forever by enabling us to create unimaginable technologies. Ideas like time travel, which have only existed in the realm of science fiction, may finally become a reality. Mining black holes for an unlimited amount of energy is also possible. We might even be able to create black holes from scratch.
Though the current black hole does not exceed the spin value of 1, it gets pretty close at around 0.92. This should provide scientists with a good amount of information to better understand the nature of black holes and singularities.