Physicists may finally have figured out how fast a black hole visible in our Milky Way is spinning, and in doing so gotten closer than ever to figuring out everything there is to know about a certain class of these dark behemoths.

The singularity, named 4U1543-4, orbits a star about 24,700 light-years from Earth. It’s one of just a few similar objects that scientists have found in our region of space, and, at 9.4 times the mass of our sun, is not a supermassive black hole. Most physicists believe black holes, having crushed all their mass down to a single point, are identical except for three numbers: their mass, their charge and their spin. And while in theory a black hole could be very positively or negatively charged if it were made solely of electrons or protons, in the real world black holes (like all massive objects in the universe) probably have a net zero charge. Now, it seems like researchers have managed to make a pretty good measurement of this black hole’s spin.



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