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How to measure the spin of a black hole

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As with all astronomical objects, black holes rotate. Black hole spin is an important property to quantify – the spin of a black hole give insights into how it formed, and the rotational energy of a black hole can be tapped to drive (for example) the spectacular relativistic jets that we often see from such systems. But how do you measure the rotation rate of a perfectly round and perfectly black sphere? Here, I shall describe the subtle influences that black hole spin has on its surroundings and how we have turned that understanding into quantitative tools for measuring black hole spin. I will then present results on both the supermassive black holes found in galactic centres and the stellar-mass black holes that litter our galaxy

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Physics Society series.

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