The 10 wildest things we learned about black holes in 2021

Scientists who study black holes can rest assured that their field will deliver astounding and mind-bending findings, year after year. And 2021 was no exception, with many exciting new results regarding these strange gravitational beasts. Here, we take a look at this year’s most captivating black hole discoveries and how they’ve advanced our understanding of the universe. 

Fastest spinning black hole 

Even the best studied black holes still yield surprises. In February, physicists revised their estimates of the properties of the cosmic monster sitting in the heart of the Cygnus X-1 system, which also happens to be the first black hole ever confirmed to exist. Originally discovered nearly 60 years ago, the Cygnus X-1 black hole was found to be 50% more massive than previously thought, making it 21 times the sun’s mass, and spinning very close to the speed of light, setting a new record for black hole rotation. The black hole in Cygnus X-1 is located about 7,200 light-years away and is slowly consuming a blue supergiant companion star, providing researchers with new insights into such processes.