Most Extreme “Wobbling Black Hole” Ever Detected – Exotic Phenomenon Predicted by Einstein’s Theory of Gravity

Two Black Holes Collide Merge

An artist’s impression of two colliding black holes. Researchers have identified a peculiar twisting motion in the orbits of two colliding black holes, an exotic phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Gravitational waves identify what could be a rare one-in-1000 event.

Astronomers at Cardiff University have identified a strange twisting motion in the orbits of two colliding black holes. This exotic phenomenon is predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Their study reports that this is the first time this effect, known as precession, has been seen in black holes, where the twisting is 10 billion times faster than in previous observations. Led by Professor Mark Hannam, Dr. Charlie Hoy, and Dr. Jonathan Thompson, the research was published on October 12 in the journal Nature.

The Advanced[{” attribute=””>LIGO and Virgo detectors found the binary

A more down-to-earth example of precession is the wobbling of a spinning top, which may wobble – or precess – once every few seconds. By contrast, precession in general relativity is usually such a weak effect that it is imperceptible. In the fastest example previously measured from orbiting neutron stars called binary pulsars, it took over 75 years for the orbit to precess. The black-hole binary in this study, colloquially known as GW200129 (named after the date it was observed, January 29, 2020), precesses several times every second – an effect 10 billion times stronger than measured previously.

Dr. Jonathan Thompson, also of Cardiff University, explained: “It’s a very tricky effect to identify. Gravitational waves are extremely weak and to detect them requires the most sensitive measurement apparatus in history. The precession is an even weaker effect buried inside the already weak signal, so we had to do a careful analysis to uncover it.”

Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein in 1916. They were first directly detected from the merger of two black holes by the Advanced LIGO instruments in 2015, a breakthrough discovery that led to the 2017 Nobel Prize. Gravitational wave astronomy is now one of the most vibrant fields of science, with a network of the Advanced LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA detectors operating in the US, Europe, and Japan. To date, there have been over 80 detections. All of them have been merging black holes or neutron stars.

“So far most black holes we’ve found with gravitational waves have been spinning fairly slowly,” said Dr. Charlie Hoy, a researcher at Cardiff University during this study, and now at the