News – PH – Astronomers find the fastest spinning black hole yet


Six decades after its discovery, the first black hole ever discovered is still causing astronomers to scratch their heads, it turns out that the cosmic behemoth at the heart of the Cygnus X-1 system is 50% more massive is more than previously thought, making it the heaviest black hole with stellar mass ever directly observed

Based on new observations, an international team of researchers estimates that the black hole is 21 times the mass of our Sun and spins faster than any other known black hole. The recalculated weight is causing scientists to rethink how bright stars move turn into black holes, evolve and how quickly they shed their skin before they die

The mass of a black hole depends on the properties of its parent star, such as: B. the mass of the star and its metallicity (how much of it is made up of elements heavier than helium) During the life of a star, it sheds its outer layers in stellar winds. Larger stars that are rich in heavy elements lose their mass faster than smaller stars with less metallicity, scientists think

“Stars lose mass to their surroundings due to stellar winds blowing away from their surface. But in order to make a black hole so heavy and spin so quickly, we need to reduce the amount of mass that bright stars lose during their lifetime “Study co-author Ilya Mandel, an astrophysicist from Monash University, Australia, said in a statement

In the new study, researchers estimated the mass of Cygnus X-1 using a proven method of measuring the distance of stars from the Earth, called parallax. As the Earth orbits the Sun, astronomers measure the apparent movement of stars relative to the background more distant stars With a little trigonometry, you can use this motion to calculate the star’s distance from Earth

Also, Cygnus X-1’s black hole is slowly devouring its light blue companion star by sucking in the outer layers of this star and forming a bright disk that rotates around the black hole. When matter falls into the black hole, it becomes Heated to millions of degrees and emits brilliant X-rays. Part of this matter just escapes the black hole and is spat out in powerful jets that emit radio waves that can be detected on earth

It was these distinctive bright jets that the research team tracked using observations from the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a continent-sized network of 10 radio telescopes stretching across the United States from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands over a period of For six days they followed the black hole’s full orbit around its companion star and determined how much the black hole shifted in space

They found that Cygnus X-1 was about 7200 light years from Earth, which is the previous estimate of 6Exceeding 000 light years, the updated distance suggests that the blue supergiant companion star is brighter and more massive than previously thought, 40 times as massive as our Sun. And given the black hole’s orbital period, they were able to get a new estimate for the black hole’s mass give off – a whopping 21 solar masses

“With the updated measurements for the black hole’s mass and its distance from Earth, we were able to confirm that Cygnus X-1 is spinning incredibly fast – very close to the speed of light and faster than any other black hole found so far,” Study co-author Lijun Gou, a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), said in the statement

The discovery is evidence of how improvements in telescope sensitivity and accuracy can uncover puzzles even in some of the best-studied parts of our universe

“When the next generation of telescopes goes online, their improved sensitivity will reveal the universe in greater detail,” said study co-author, Xueshan Zhao, a researcher at NAOC, in a statement, “It’s a great time to be To become an astronomer “

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Black Hole, Cygnus X-1, Star, Astronomy

News – PH – Astronomers find the fastest rotating black hole yet