Closest Black Hole to Earth Discovered
For hundreds of thousands of years man has looked to the heavens for answers.
This month a team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) along with other institutes has discovered a black hole lying just 1,000 light years from Earth.
To put that into some kind of Earth bound miles, there is just over 6 trillion miles in a single light year, so its quite some distance from us, however in space terms, this is kind of like just around the block.
What makes this Black Hole so special is that it is the closest to our Solar System than any other and forms part of a triple system that can be seen with the naked eye.
Thomas Rivinius who led the study published in Astronomy and Astrophysis said:
This system contains the nearest black hole to Earth that we know of
Introducing HR 6819
In case you were wondering whether we name our Black Holes, it is clear that we do.
This one has been aptly named HR 6819 and is one of the very first stellar-mass black holes that is found to not interact violently with their environment, and therefore appears to be truly black.
But the team were able to spot its presence and calculate its mass by studying the orbit of the star in the inner pair.
As Thomas Rivinius, who is based in Chile, concludes:
An invisible object with a mass at least 4 times that of the Sun can only be a black hole,
Dozens in our Galaxy
Astronomers have thought to of only found a couple of black holes in our Galaxy to date, nearly all of which strongly interact with their environment and make their presences known by releasing powerful x-rays in this interaction.
However, scientists estimate that throughout the Milky Way’s lifetime, more stars collapse into black holes as they ended their lives. The discovery of this latest, silent blackhole gives astronomers and scientists a like clues about where many hidden black holes might be.
Already astronomers are hopeful that the discovery of HR 6819 could shine some light on a second system.
We realised that another system, called LB-1, may also be such a triple, though we’d need more observations to say for sure, says Marianne Heida, a postdoctoral fellow at ESO and co-author of the paper.
Triple systems with inner pairs and a distant star could also provide clues about the violent cosmic merges that release gravitational waves, powerful enough to be detected from Earth.