Scientists recently discovered a Milky Way supermassive black hole, exceeding 7 billion Suns, spins at a rate nearly challenging the very boundaries of physics

A team of scientists has discovered that the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning so fast that it’s squishing space-time.

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory telescope, a team of physicists calculated the speed at which the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, is spinning, publishing their findings last month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

They found that Sagittarius A* — located 26,000 light-years away from Earth, according to NASA — is spinning so fast that it’s actually dragging surrounding space-time along with it, squishing it down like a football, CNN reported.

“With this spin, Sagittarius A* will be dramatically altering the shape of space-time in its vicinity,” Ruth Daly, the lead author on the study, told CNN. “We’re used to thinking and living in a world where all the spatial dimensions are equivalent — the distance to the ceiling and the distance to the wall and the distance to the floor … they all sort of are linear, it’s not like one is totally squished up compared to the others.”

“But if you have a rapidly rotating black hole, the space-time around it is not symmetric,” Daly said, according to CNN. “The spinning black hole is dragging all of the space-time around with it … it squishes down the space-time, and it sort of looks like a football.”

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That may sound alarming, but don’t worry; the black hole is way too far away to affect us here on Earth.

But, Daly said, understanding how black holes function can help scientists learn more about the formation and evolution of galaxies like our own.

Sia

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