Black holes are one of the unique celestial entities that are invisible to the eye and have no definite features. It’s a place where even light can’t escape and making it a perfect place to test the laws of physics in extreme conditions. A team of astronomers have now found the nearest black hole, led by the European Southern Observatory.
Nearest Black Hole Discovered
The study was led by ESO scientist Thomas Rivinius and was published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. The team used the ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile and located the black hole in a triple system, about 1,000 light-years from the Earth in the Telescopium constellation. The black hole, dubbed as HR 6819, could be one of the quite black holes in existence.
The team used the MPG/ESP 2.2-meter telescope at the observatory to study the nearby star systems. While tracking the companion stars in the system, the team discovered a third unseen object roughly 4.2 times larger than the Sun, which places it in the ‘stellar’ black hole range. The best part is, astronomers could see the black hole with naked eyes.
“We were totally surprised when we realized that this is the first stellar system with a black hole that can be seen with the unaided eye,” said Petr Hadrava, an Emeritus Scientist at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague and co-author of the research.
Why Is The Nearest Black Hole Important?
Unlike many other stellar-mass black holes discovered, the new HR 6819 doesn’t interact violently in its environment. Most black holes have violent interactions with their environment, creating powerful X-ray bursts. But this is the first one to be discovered that doesn’t react violently.
The discovery of the black home HR 6819 is quite important due to its nature. So far, scientists have discovered a limited number of black holes in the Milky Way, but they estimate that there are many more stars that have collapsed into black holes. Hence, the evidence of the ‘quite’ black hole could help better understand other black holes and their discovery.
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