Watch: Spinning Black Hole Blasts Wobbly Plasma Jets

A spinning black hole pulls space and time around with it - an effect called frame-dragging

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Astronomers have discovered remarkably rapid jets of plasma spewing from an extraordinary black hole in space. According to research published in the journal Nature, the V404 Cygni binary system contains a black hole that feeds on a nearby star. Located 7,800 light years away from Earth, the black hole's strong gravity is warping space around it.

As the black hole feeds on a nearby star, the material that gets sucked in forms an accretion disk around it. Some of the material that gets sucked in escapes the black hole via jets of plasma called relativistic jets. However, while most black holes spew jets of plasma from their poles, the V404 Cygni is unusual - it shoots jets rapidly in different directions, at different times.

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, a spinning black hole pulls space and time around with it - an effect called frame-dragging.

In V404 Cygni, the black hole and disk are misaligned, causing the frame-dragging to warp the donut shape in a ring. This in turn causes it to wobble and spew jets out in different directions.

"We were gobsmacked by what we saw in this system - it was completely unexpected," researcher Greg Sivakoff of National Radio Astronomy Observatory said in a press release. "Finding this astronomical first has deepened our understanding of how black holes and galaxy formation can work. It tells us a little more about that big question: 'How did we get here?'"



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