Astronomers discover mysterious alignment of black holes

Posted: April 12, 2016 by oldbrew in Astrophysics
Tags: ,

Intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star [credit: NASA]

Intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star
[credit: NASA]

The astronomers are reported to say such a ‘large-scale spin distribution has never been predicted by theories’. A professor states: “This is not obviously expected based on our current understanding of cosmology. It’s a bizarre finding.”

Deep radio imaging by researchers in the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape, in South Africa, has revealed that supermassive black holes in a region of the distant universe are all spinning out radio jets in the same direction – most likely a result of primordial mass fluctuations in the early universe.

The astronomers publish their results in a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The new result is the discovery – for the first time – of an alignment of the jets of galaxies over a large volume of space, a finding made possible by a three-year deep radio imaging survey of the radio waves coming from a region called ELAIS-N1 using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT).

The jets are produced by the supermassive black holes at the centres of these galaxies, and the only way for this alignment to exist is if supermassive black holes are all spinning in the same direction, says Prof Andrew Russ Taylor, joint UWC/UCT SKA Chair, Director of the recently-launched Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy, and principal author of the Monthly Notices study.

“Since these black holes don’t know about each other, or have any way of exchanging information or influencing each other directly over such vast scales, this spin alignment must have occurred during the formation of the galaxies in the early universe,” he notes.

This implies that there is a coherent spin in the structure of this volume of space that was formed from the primordial mass fluctuations that seeded the creation of the large-scale structure of the universe.

Full report: Astronomers in South Africa discover mysterious alignment of black holes


  1. oldbrew says:

    Another professor says:
    “Since these black holes don’t know about each other, or have any way of exchanging information or influencing each other directly over such vast scales, this spin alignment must have occurred during the formation of the galaxies in the early universe”

    Bring on the theories.

  2. Sparks says:

    It’s all about scale, the only thing that can bring about ‘something from (apparently) nothing’ on a galactic scale is very basic, fundamental differences, such as pressure changes causing a gravitational collapse into dense black holes and when these black holes interact with each other they begin releasing energy and lots of hydrogen, forming stars producing helium, carbon etc.. which collapse and explode forming new stars and planets with heavier materials.

    There really has never been any need for a ‘big bang’ or ‘singularity’ type theory that magically comes into existence, the one thing the universe posses and always has, is fundamental laws that have always been apart of the universes nature.

    A good short analogy of this is when small eddies form in a deep swimming pool… Black holes are not empty and they do attract each other, and that is how galaxies form.

  3. Sparks says:

    oldbrew says:
    April 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

    “Another professor says:
    Since these black holes don’t know about each other…”

    The Gravitational attraction of these black holes will either form Galaxies or drift apart if they “don’t know about each other”. it is a possibility that these black holes are in the early stages of being produced…

  4. oldbrew says:

    Some black hole theory:

    ‘Scientists can’t directly observe black holes with telescopes that detect x-rays, light, or other forms of electromagnetic radiation. We can, however, infer the presence of black holes and study them by detecting their effect on other matter nearby.’

  5. oldbrew says:

    More quotes from the report:

    ‘Within the large-scale structure, there were regions where the spin axes of galaxies lined up.’

    ‘So what could these large-scale environmental influences during galaxy formation or evolution have been? There are several options: cosmic magnetic fields; fields associated with exotic particles (axions); and cosmic strings are only some of the possible candidates that could create an alignment in galaxies even on scales larger than galaxy clusters.’

    ‘It’s a mystery, and it’s going to take a while for technology and theory alike to catch up.’
    Best stick to observation IMO.

    ‘The axion is a hypothetical elementary particle’ – Wikipedia

    ‘Despite much work on these problems, it is not known to what extent string theory describes the real world or how much freedom the theory allows to choose the details.’ – Wikipedia

  6. oldbrew says:

    Sparks says: ‘it is a possibility that these black holes are in the early stages of being produced…’

    ‘Early stages’ and ‘supermassive black holes’ seem incompatible?

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    Emmm…. A region where the massive bodies seem to have aligned spin could be the center of the Universe. Also gyros tend to align with out other influences. Most likely the matter in that region all originated from one nebula and that not been disturbed by outside events…pg

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    I love these pictures of “Black Hole” search lights. A beacon from GOD to direct attention to the clue of how his Universe works. The “leak” where spinning magnetic fields reduce gravity- mass/inertia…pg

  9. Sparks says:

    oldbrew says:

    “‘Early stages’ and ‘supermassive black holes’ seem incompatible?”

    It does sound counter intuitive, although if they’re at the stage now of their evolution where they are beginning to interact with each other and the final stages are when galaxies begin to form, merge of move away from each other, I would say more accurately they are at the end of the early stage of their formation.

  10. It goes to show that we really do not have a (bacon roll) about the real universe. Not yet anyway. We will get part way there eventually.

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    “our current [mis]understanding of cosmology” [statement-correcting edit]

    “This implies that there is a coherent spin in the structure of this volume of space”

    That’s a perfect description of bureaucratic administration’s darkening role in ignorant &/or deceptive consensual academic misunderstanding &/or misrepresentation of nature & nature’s beauty.

  12. oldbrew says:

    ‘The new result is the discovery – for the first time – of an alignment of the jets of galaxies over a large volume of space’

    If the jets are aligned, that probably implies the black holes themselves (whatever they are) are aligned as well.

  13. Paul Vaughan says:

    OB, on behalf of the conventional mainstream (and in good fun) let me quickly correct you as follows:
    You must immediately close your mind to the possibility that the 4 walls of your home are aligned systematically & purposefully. You will now direct your feeble mind back to prescribed belief that all is random and beyond your comprehension. If you do not immediately submit, you will be hatefully and viciously publicly bullied and tormented every time you open your mouth — a warlike american fate far more cruel than peaceful chinese censorship I deliberately choose to provoke to help trigger needed reflection on the ethics of viciously hateful bullying and the clear purpose of related optics (their intention is aggressive intimidation to stop expression of fact).
    It’s random!!!!
    You hear????
    I said it’s random!!!!
    Now shut up and believe me.
    I told you! The sun has no effect!!! I’m an expert on a pedestal and I dictate your thoughts.

    good fun…
    [ :

  14. Ned Nikolov says:

    We should not forget that ‘black holes’ are first and foremost a product of a theory, a mathematical artifact and a consequence of the notion that gravity (which is the weakest one of the 4 forces known to us) rules the Universe. No one has observed black holes directly! They are assumed to exists only because they supposedly follow from Einstein’s theory of general relativity … Interestingly, however, the solutions of Einstein’s field equation that predict the existence of ‘black holes’ assume either zero mass (i.e. the Ricci tensor is zero) or the presence of a single-mass in the entire universe. Both assumptions are mathematical abstractions and do not even remotely describe the real Universe, which contains countless masses.

    So, ‘black holes’ are likely a figment of ‘mathematical’ imagination!

  15. Well said Ned Black holes and the big bang are just assumptions in mathematics such as having 10 dimensions in string theory (eg as proposed by Shing-Tung Yau in his book The Shape of Inner space -String theory and geometry of the universe’s hidden dimension). Blackholes and an expanding universe can not exist if there is an infinite universe= bad maths. Something that is infinite can not get bigger and it can not have started from a single point of nothing. Astro-physics, string theory etc are scams like AGW ( “Climate Change” ) to get more research money to give some not very competent scientists but good talkers for a short time power and luxury at the expense of ordinary hard working people.

  16. oldbrew says:

    Whatever the sources really are, i.e. black holes or something else, the observations show them ‘spinning out radio jets in the same direction’. This has to be accounted for in terms of (astro)physics.

    For me the prime suspects would be electricity and its cousin magnetism.

    ‘While it is not known exactly how accretion disks manage to produce jets, they are thought to generate tangled magnetic fields that cause the jets to collimate.’

    Rotating black hole as energy source

    ‘New hypervelocity binary star challenges dark matter, stellar acceleration models’
    ‘the results of the new study challenge the commonly accepted scenario that hypervelocity stars are accelerated by the supermassive black hole at the galactic center.’
    ‘the mere existence of this binary puts pressure on our models and on our current understanding of dark matter in the Milky Way.’

  17. Paul Vaughan says:

    “the mere existence of this binary puts pressure on our models and on our current understanding of dark matter in the Milky Way.”

    translation: “we f****d up! …and oh the amount of face we lose if you realize how badly…”

    Observations are deathly threats to imaginatively subjective theoretical constructions.

    This reminds me of a grad student I once knew who chose math because (for her) it’s clean & tidy. With exasperation & humor she told me she couldn’t deal with the messes of reality.

  18. oldbrew says:

    What’s the matter with dark matter? Well, you can’t see it…

  19. Ned Nikolov says:

    Current astrophysics and cosmology in general have put themselves in a position, where one delusion is explained with another. ‘Black holes’, ‘curved spacetime’, ‘dark matter’, ‘dark energy’ and ‘big-bang universe’ are all mathematical constructs with virtually no empirical support in observational or experimental physics. Specifically, dark matter and dark energy are giant fudge factors invented by cosmologists to save a theory, which claims that gravity rules the Universe by curving spacetime … 🙂

  20. Paul Vaughan says:

    I respect the engineers who can put a satellite in orbit, but I have to say I’ve lost a lot of respect for physicists over the past decade.

    I take my share of the responsibility. I now realize how profoundly naive I was for perceiving them as I did before arriving at more lucid awareness of the degree to which their whole worlds of imaginative construction hinge on assumptions, many of which are easily seen by sober eyes to be false.

    I feel deep shame for having been so naive.

    Our education system isn’t doing a very good job of empowering students to see the KEY role of BASE assumptions in models.

    Some may see the consequent problems in economics as more pressing than those in physics, but looking at how the public naively eyes physicists as god-like and let’s them get away unquestioned with assumptions proven false by observation should give us some insight into the CULTURAL roots of current western societal problems. We live in a society that’s obsessed with subjectivity construction and in the quantitative world the way that’s accomplished is with carefully chosen false assumptions.

    When I was an educator I did stress to the students the role of assumptions and I found it quite delectable pointing out some of the crazy assumptions of cultural rather than logical origin to help the students realize how once tradition becomes entrenched only luminaries may be aware that it’s wrong logically.

    But what makes me feel even deeper shame now is that I didn’t go far enough. I was in a leadership position and it was my failure to share more comical and painful examples of the impacts of false assumptions that probably left those citizens more naive than necessary.

    Of course I had to step outside of the curriculum dictated by higher-ups to stress the hinging role of assumptions at all.

    I do recall one higher-up being quite angered that I would dare clarify precisely for new students a prominent weakness of the whole paradigm. I think he regarded me as a saboteur, undercutting the vision of “reasoning” his field sells to other fields. Being transdisciplinary I suppose my perspective was different. I was only visiting the tribe. I wasn’t an entrenched member. I was going to leave eventually and visit other fields.

    Cleverly chosen false assumptions are regarded as gold & diamonds.

    My tip is when looking at models, be a gold-digger. Don’t waste your time. Just go right in and identify the implicit assumptions that have been hidden from view. Sometimes they do it out of ignorance. Sometimes it is deception. Often they do it because they just can’t think what else to do when they’re stuck in a bind. Cleverly chosen false assumptions are also VERY highly-prized as work-arounds for intractable math and this is the perfect example of deviously and defiantly CELEBRATED cultural corruption as it is manifested in quantitative work.

    During talks I would hear remarks from the audience to the speaker like, “Now that is clever,” followed by smug laughter. That’s normal. It’s considered genius to make some clever assumption to simplify the math. If the math simplification thus gained is profound, the temptation is sufficiently powerful to hook intellectually turned-on minds into smugly ignoring any stark conflicts with reality. Government admins steering the funding just see floods of algebra and accept that as optically sufficient. When those funding the quantitative work are interested in engineering illusory and inspiring subjectivities, you can imagine where the funding rewards are most likely to flow.

    Firsthand I saw this going on in Stats. We all know it’s going on in Economics (no one even questions that). During the past decade my naivety eroded and it became clear to me that it’s normal in physics.

    What’s worse I discovered is that there are physicists abusing their rank in society in an attempt to enforce beliefs based on false model assumptions. Although I saw plenty of distasteful things, I never ran into anything even remotely so creepy in Stats. The abuse of trust I’ve seen from physicists during the past decade is unfathomably reprehensible. I’m now instinctively leery of them as a group. Their attempt to enforce belief in “truth” based on proven-false assumptions is unethical and strictly unacceptable.

  21. oldbrew says:

    Dark matter and dark energy are like the Loch Ness monster – much talked about, never observed but popular with the media.

    More headaches for black hole theorists:

    ‘The hot problem of black hole firewalls’

    Quote: If a firewall actually exists, the authors argue that it wouldn’t simply be confined to a region within the black hole, but its destructive power could reach beyond the limits of the event horizon, into a region of space that could be observed.

    And no such thing has been observed.