The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way may look more like a football than a circle, new research suggests. The new study, which appears in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that the Milky Way’s black hole is spinning so fast that it’s actually warping space-time.
“Our work may help settle the question of how fast our galaxy’s supermassive black hole is spinning,” said Ruth Daly, lead author of the new study. “Our results indicate that Sgr A* is spinning very rapidly, which is interesting and has far-reaching implications.”
The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole has long been a fascinating target for scientist’s observations. Known as Sgr A*, or Sagittarius A* if you want the long name, scientists have spent a lot of time trying to understand the massive cosmic object that seems to hold our galaxy together.
Using data gathered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the team behind the new study says that they believe that Sgr. A* is spinning so fast that it’s bending space-time around it. Space-time, sometimes written spacetime, is the combination of time and the three dimensions of space.
The researchers estimate that the Milky Way’s black hole is spinning at 60 percent of its maximum possible speed. This was reported on past discoveries, which are helping us better understand the speed of a black hole’s spin and how it affects other parts of the universe around them.
In the case of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, space-time is bending and warping around Sgr. A*, causing the matter around it to take on the shape of a football. It’s an intriguing find and certainly one that leaves scientists scratching their heads as we strive to learn more about these massive cosmic objects and the part they play in the universe’s evolution.