OJ 287 is a quasi-periodic quasar with roughly 12 year optical cycles. It displays prominent outbursts that are predictable in a binary black hole model. The model predicted a major optical outburst in 2015 December. We found that the outburst did occur within the expected time range, peaking on 2015 December 5 at magnitude 12.9 in the optical R-band. Based on Swift/XRT satellite measurements and optical polarization data, we find that it included a major thermal component. Its timing provides an accurate estimate for the spin of the primary black hole, . The present outburst also confirms the established general relativistic properties of the system such as the loss of orbital energy to gravitational radiation at the 2% accuracy level, and it opens up the possibility of testing the black hole no-hair theorem with 10% accuracy during the present decade.
- Black hole physics
- quasars: general
- quasars: individual (OJ.,Q287)
- quasars: supermassive black holes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science