Black holes are one of the most mysterious objects in space, and the latest discovery of a rather odd black hole spinning on a tilted axis strongly misaligned with its orbital plane has added yet another dimension of mystery to these cosmic behemoths. Unfortunately, measuring a black hole’s spin rate is no easy job. That primarily has to do with the fact that they don’t even allow light to escape, forcing scientists to adopt indirect methods such as X-rays coming from proxies like the disk of matter feeding the black hole. In 2013, scientists relied on an alternative approach to study the black hole at the center of the NGC 1365 galaxy and calculated its spin rate to fall somewhere around 86 percent of the speed of light.

However, specific processes are associated with a black hole that happens much faster. For example, in 2020, scientists observed that the black hole in Messier 87 galaxy was shooting jets of energized particles at a speed exceeding 99 percent that of light. Late last year, researchers finally solved the mystery as to how particles ejected from a black hole can travel at such high speed, with scientists arriving at the conclusion that a strong magnetic field is accelerating them. But as far rotational behavior goes, theoretical models suggest a black hole rotates aligned to an axis that is perpendicular to the orbital plane. It is also the orientation of the relativistic jets it blasts.

Related:  What’s Inside A Black Hole? Scientists Use A Quantum Computer To Find Out

But a new discovery challenges that theory. A team of researchers from the University of Turku has noticed that the black hole in the MAXI J1820+070 binary star system is highly misaligned. The team observed that the odd black hole has a tilt of about 40 degrees measured against the binary system’s orbit. Scientists studied the bright optical and X-ray radiation and radio emissions generated by the jets expelled by the black hole to determine the axis of rotation with a high degree of accuracy.

Kicked Out Of Alignment After Birth

Scientists also applied polarimetric techniques for getting a better directional input and spectroscopic methods to make the odd observation. To recall, spectroscopic instruments at the Keck Observatory recently contributed to the discovery of two mini-Neptunes that are losing their atmosphere to the intense radiations coming from their star and are slowly turning into mini-Earths. Coming back to the oddly tilted black hole, scientists note that a 40-degree variation between the orbital axis and the black hole spin took them by surprise. So far, the astronomers have believed that the misalignment was tiny in the case of rotating black holes based on models that predict the curved nature of space-time warping around these cosmic behemoths.

The black hole at the center of the latest discovery, published in Science magazine, weighs about eight times as the sun, while the star orbiting it is roughly half the size of Earth’s host star. As to why the black hole is tilted, scientists suspect it received a massive kick when the parent star collapsed violently and turned into a matter-sucking spinning anomaly in space. The ‘natal kick’ may have happened after the supernova explosion due to the ejection of particles in a particular direction, knocking the black hole out of alignment compared to the neighboring objects.