Weird Black Hole Is Shooting Out Wobbly Jets Because It's Dragging Spacetime

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Weird Black Hole Is Shooting Out Wobbly Jets Because It's Dragging Spacetime

The V404 Cygni black hole, on the other hand, seems to be dragging in space itself according to a team of researchers from the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).

"This is one of the most extraordinary black hole systems I've ever come across", study author James Miller-Jones said in a statement.

Like a variety of black holes, it is sustaining on a close by star hauling gas away from the star and creating a disk of matter that encompasses the black hole and whorls towards it under gravity.

That material ends up in a rotating stream of material around the black hole called an accretion disk.

An artist's impression of what is happening to the structure shows it "wobbling" inside a "spinning top".

In V404 Cygni, the black hole's spin axis is misaligned from the plane of its orbit with the companion star.

According to Mr Miller-Jones, it was first discovered in 1989 when it suddenly released jets of plasma and radiation. Previous outbursts associated with this black hole were noted in 1938 and 1956 and found on archival photographic plates.

"Everybody jumped on the outburst with whatever telescopes they could throw at it", he said.

"We've never seen this effect happening over such short timescales", said James Miller-Jones.

"What happens is while things are on their way, it's possible that some of the material gets diverted and one of the ways it gets diverted is into these jets of material that basically appear to be coming away from the black hole - but they come from material that just hasn't reached the black hole". Usually those jets blaze straight "up" and "down", along the axis on which the black hole spins.

What's more, the jets were changing direction rapidly, "on a time scale of minutes to hours", the scientists wrote in their study, published online today (April 29) in the journal Nature.

Miller-Jones said the change in the movement of the jets was because of the accretion disk-the rotating disk of matter around a black hole. While the accretion disk is about 6.2 million miles (10 million kilometers) across, the doughnut is only a few thousand kilometers wide. The spinning black hole pulls spacetime (the green gridlines) around with it, causing the inner disk to precess like a spinning top, thereby redirecting the jets.

"Our best explanation is that this is actually caused by an effect of Einstein's general relativity, whereby the black hole is spinning and is pulling space and time around with it", he added. The black hole is eating its companion star, sucking its mass into its accretion disc, then ejecting material out via two jets.

Using the Very Long Baseline Array-an intercontinental system of 10 radio telescopes operated from a center in Socorro, New Mexico-the team observed the jets at a high resolution, equivalent to seeing a quarter in NY from the distance of Los Angeles. But these jets were changing so fast that in a four-hour image we just saw a blur. "Finding this astronomical first has deepened our understanding of how black holes and galaxy formation can work". "Typically, radio telescopes produce a single image from several hours of observation".

'Anytime you get a misalignment between the spin of a black hole and the material falling in, you would expect to see this when a black hole starts feeding very rapidly, ' Gemma Anderson, a professor at Curtin University and co-author of the study, explained.

Since the V404 Cygni black hole didn't follow the same rules as conventional blackholes, the ICRAR team has to combine 103 images of the black hole, each around 70 seconds long, in order to observe the phenomenon.

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