The discovery of a black hole in the “cosmic backyard” of the Earth

Gemini International Observatory / NOIRLab / NSF / AURA

NOS . News

A new record in the order of a black hole: astronomers have discovered one that is located “only” 1,560 light years from Earth. That’s twice as close as any other known black hole.

Black holes are places in space from which nothing can escape, not even light. Most black holes are the remnants of a massive star explosion. There are an estimated 100 million in the Milky Way alone, of which our solar system is a part, but only a few have been confirmed to exist.

Thus, the newly discovered black hole is the closest, 1,560 light-years on the scale of our Milky Way (average 105,000 light-years) orbiting the cosmic backyard. But this is relative: a spacecraft with current technology will take more than 30 million years to fly there.

The black hole, Gaia BH1, has been found with Gemini Observatory, an observatory made up of two large reflecting telescopes, one in Hawaii and one in Chile. The dark orb was discovered because he is not alone. Gaia BH1 has a partner: a star as far from the black hole as the Earth is from the Sun. This is special, say the discoverers. “Take our solar system and put a black hole in the place of our sun, a star where our Earth is, and you will have this system,” explains astrophysicist Karim El-Badri.

giant black hole

Gaia BH1 is an even smaller black hole, called stellar mass black hole, A stellar black hole. It can have a mass tens of times greater than the mass of the Sun. In addition, there are also supermassive black holes, Its mass can be millions of times greater than the mass of the Sun. Such a supermassive black hole is located, for example, in the center of the Milky Way.

Using a network of radio telescopes around the world, astronomers were able to image this black hole this year:

EHT Collaboration

The black hole at the center of the Milky Way

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