The year 2019 has been a big one for black holes. To begin with, we. We also discovered 83 of them . No big deal.
Now recent research is uncovering more about the insanely dense, spacetime bending bad boys of the universe. Get this: while most black holes are thought to "spin" (thanks to the space dust and gas in orbital motion around the black hole) scientists have discovered a black hole that does things a little differently.
V404 Cygni is a binary system in the constellation of Cygnus. At its center is a black hole that is currently in the process of absorbing a low mass nearby star.
Astronomers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth, Western Australia noticed that the black hole in V404 Cygni was spitting out bright jet beams of matter into space. That's relatively normal, what wasn't normal was the direction the matter was being sprayed. As a result of the way black holes normally spin, the matter tends to spray out in the same direction. This time it was being sprayed out at different angles. The jets appear to be rapidly rotating.
You can see this visualized in the below animation. The conclusion: this black hole is spinning a little differently than the rest.
"This is one of the most extraordinary black hole systems I've ever come across," explained Associate Professor James Miller-Jones, lead author of a study recently published in Nature.
"Like many black holes, it's feeding on a nearby star, pulling gas away from the star and forming a disk of material that encircles the black hole and spirals towards it under gravity.
"What's different in V404 Cygni is that we think the disk of material and the black hole are misaligned.
"This appears to be causing the inner part of the disk to wobble like a spinning top and fire jets out in different directions as it changes orientation."
Think of the black hole in V404 Cygni as a gigantic, light consuming Beyblade that's starting to run out of juice. It's no longer spinning straight, it's wobbling all over the place.
You can read more about the ground breaking discovery here, at ICRAR's official website.