Tag: wobbling

Black Hole From Iconic Image Appears to Be Wobbling

Black hole M87*.

Black hole M87*.
Image: EHT Collaboration

Scientists are learning important new things about the first-ever directly imaged black hole, including behaviors consistent with Einsteinian theory, but it’s also showing an unexpected feature in the form of a very wobbly ring.

Seems like forever ago, but we finally got to feast our eyes on the apparently unseeable back in April 2019, when this incredible image of a supermassive black hole was first released. Of course, we can’t actually “see” the black hole, because, as any 6-year-old will happily tell you, black holes have a habit of sucking up light. What the picture does show, however, is an asymmetric ring, known as the black hole’s shadow, of superheated gas swirling around the black hole’s event horizon—that boundary beyond which light cannot escape.

This particular black hole, with the mass of 6.5 billion Suns, is located 55 million light-years away

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New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling shadow

New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling shadow
An animation showing the consistency of the measured ring diameter and the uncertainties of the orientation measurement. Credit: M. Wielgus and the EHT Collaboration

In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration delivered the first image of a black hole, revealing M87*—the supermassive object in the center of the M87 galaxy. The team has now used the lessons learned last year to analyze the archival data sets from 2009-2013, some of them not published before.


The analysis reveals the behavior of the black hole image across multiple years, indicating persistence of the crescent-like shadow feature, but also variation of its orientation—the crescent appears to be wobbling. The full results appeared today in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Event Horizon Telescope is not one singular telescope, but a global partnership of telescopes—including the UChicago-led South Pole Telescope—which performs synchronized observations using the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry. Together they form a

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