Black hole

Why is this massive black hole wobbling?

At the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, something weird is going on.


There's a black hole 53 million lightyears away, and it's a little wobbly.

The wobbly black hole, which lies at the center of the Messier 87 Galaxy, could help scientists unravel some mysteries.

The world got its first view of M87*, in the constellation Virgo, back in 2019.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Scientists used the Event Horizon Telescope, which took images from all the major ground-based radio telescopes on the planet, to image the mysterious, massive object.



The effort resulted in humanity’s first look at material orbiting a black hole’s event horizon — the distance at which nothing can escape a black hole’s gravity.

Daniel Rocal - PHOTOGRAPHY/Moment/Getty Images

The scientists wanted to study M87* on a longer timescale to see if it changed at all, so they extended their dataset back to past observations.

Daniel Rocal - PHOTOGRAPHY/Moment/Getty Images

They found that the shadow crescent formed by the orbiting material moves around the black hole’s center, which makes it look wobbly. Tap to watch the video.

M. Wielgus, D. Pesce & the EHT Collaboration

That wobbly appearance also tells scientists that the black hole is consuming gas and other material, which heats to billions of degrees and ionizes as it is gobbled up.

The findings will help scientists better understand what happens when material gets close to a black hole’s event horizon — and they’ll even be able to test out more of Einstein’s theories.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

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