Scientists say a black hole has chiseled a remarkably stable indentation in the fabric of space and time.
The finding may help scientists measure a black hole's mass and how it spins, two measurements that have long been sought, the astronomers reported at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.
Using NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the team from MIT, the University of Michigan and Amsterdam University saw identical patterns in the X-ray light emitted near the black hole nine years apart.
Black hole regions are notoriously chaotic, generating light at a range of frequencies. Similarities seen nine years apart imply something very fundamental is producing a pair of observed frequencies, namely the warping of space and time predicted by Einstein but rarely seen in such detail, researchers said in a release from MIT.
A black hole forms when a very massive star runs out of fuel, researchers said. Without the power to support its mass, the star implodes and the core collapses to a point of infinite density. Gravity is so strong inside that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull, according to UPI.