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Astronomers Discover a Black Hole Right In Our Own 'Backyard'

Scientists discover a black hole as close as 1000 lightyears to Earth.

By Silek Tue 16 Mar, 2021 2:50 PM - Last Updated: Wed 21 Apr, 2021 2:06 AM
Recently, scientists discovered a black hole as close as 1000 lightyears away from Earth, making it the closest black hole to our solar system ever discovered. At 4.2 times the mass of our sun, HR619 was turned in by a pair of stars with odd orbits, giving away its location.

A lot of what can be garnered from scientific discovery can be attributed to what is called indirect observation. Scientists often look for anomalous behaviors in objects that are visible and trackable such as a massive star or even better, a pair of them. When they see an object like this behaving in an unexpectedBlackHoleDiscovered1
Potentially the nearest black hole to Earth (red)
and it's two nearby massive stars (blue), in this
conceptual rendering.
way, these behaviors often cover something unknown or, less frequently, unexpected.

Although scientists might be able to detect a ‘wobble’ in a star’s equator, they might not be able to directly observe the planet orbiting the star causing the wobble. Through the information garnered from how this star should normally be observed behaving, and how one of interest might be acting, the number of planets in its orbit might be determined, their size, and even composition in some cases.

Sometimes this technique is used not only to find things that are too small or dark to physically see, but also objects which are BlackHoleDiscovered2
The historic 2019 Event Horizon's photo of the
black hole at the center of Galaxy M87.
impossible to see, such as black holes. Without these companions to determine the existence of a black hole, the search would be impossible. “If it’s lonely out there without a companion, you’ll never find it,” says astrophysicist Thomas Rivinius of the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile.

Like a planet exerting its gravity on a star, a black hole’s discernable, quantifiable forces effect literally everything within vast amounts of space. To understand Einstein’s way of thinking, every gravitational force no matter how weak effects every other force throughout the Universe, but for the sake of working within the boundaries of modern-day technology, a black hole’s force of effect is generally understood to be proportional to its size, which again is only determined by the visible effects on objects around it that can be measured.

Astronomers predict that there are between are up to 100 million black holes in the Milky Way alone. Up till now we believed the closest to our solar system to be V616 Mon. V616 has been blasting x-rays at us from over 3000 light years away. Closing that gap by 2000 light years is a significant achievement, and valuable find.

As we get closer and closer to technology that allows us to see further and clearer into the cosmos, astronomers believe that this may be just the beginning of a deep and thorough understanding of the part black holes play in the workings of the Universe. Undoubtedly there are many others we have yet to detect. As ESO astronomer Marianne Heida put it, “It would be a little bit too convenient, if there’s only one in the Milky Way, that it’s right next door.”

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Tue 16 Mar, 2021 3:05 PM
This is both Informative and Terrifying, Terrifyingly Informative, excellent Article.
Wed 17 Mar, 2021 3:28 AM
Good article. At 4,2 times the mass of our sun it's a tiny black hole, as black holes go. At least as i understand it a star needs to be about 10 times the mass of our sun to become a black hole when it dies instead of just going supernova.
Tue 20 Apr, 2021 10:37 PM
just noticed this:
"Astronomers predict that there are between are up to a billion black holes in the Milky Way alone"
Wed 21 Apr, 2021 2:07 AM
Thanks for that!