Black holes are among the most mysterious things in space. Scientists have now discovered a black hole in a very special way. A special discovery can help you learn more about the origin of mysterious things.
Black Hole – The name does not reflect the magic that this cosmic phenomenon exerts on science. Black holes are cosmic ghosts and we still have limited knowledge of what they are.
Scientists from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have now made a discovery that will speed up the study of black holes.
What is a black hole?
For a long time, a black hole was just a gray theory. The term was coined by American physicist John Archibald Wheeler in 1967. The existence of this phenomenon was likely, but it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that specific observations were made, such as the study of the A* supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. In 2019, astronomers were able to create a radio telescopic image of the M87* black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, located 55 million light-years away. And in the spring of 2020, scientists from Eso discovered a black hole closer to Earth than previously observed: it can even be observed indirectly in the sky with the naked eye, through two companion stars.
What we do know: A black hole is an object whose mass is concentrated in an extremely small volume. As a result, such strong gravity is created in the environment that light can no longer penetrate or pass through the black hole.
Scientists discover a black hole in a new way
Astronomers have now discovered a small black hole outside the Milky Way using the Very Large Telescope (VLT). They did this by observing the effect of a black hole on the motion of a star in its immediate vicinity. This detection method was used for the first time to discover a black hole outside our galaxy. An important step in discovering secrets. The new method could hold the key to discovering hidden black holes in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and help answer the question: Where do black holes come from? How do they come? How does it change over time?
A newly discovered black hole was discovered in NGC 1850. The acronym NGC stands for New General Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters, a catalog of star clusters and galaxies that has been operating standardly since the 19th century. NGC 1850 is a group of thousands of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 160,000 light-years from our galaxy.
Says Sarah Sarachino from University of the Astrophysical Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores, UK.
Sarasino led the research and its results are now accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The result shown here only reveals one of the criminals we’re looking for, but once you find it, you’re on your way to discovering a few other criminals in different piles.”
The black hole is 11 times the mass of the sun
The first black hole the team found in this way had a mass 11 times the mass of the Sun. Due to the effect of gravity, the object revealed itself to the star it orbits. In the past, scientists have found such tiny black holes in other galaxies by collecting the X-rays that objects emit when they swallow matter. Black holes have also been discovered by observing gravitational waves that form when black holes collide with each other or with neutron stars.
But: only very few stellar-mass black holes can be detected using X-rays or gravitational waves. “The vast majority can only be detected by movement,” says Stefan Dressler, a team member at the University of Göttingen. “When they create a star system, they influence its trajectory in a subtle but provable way until we find it with sophisticated tools.”
The new method should achieve a breakthrough
The method used by Saracino and her team should ensure that more black holes are discovered in the future. This enables science to reveal its secrets. “Every discovery we make will be important to our future understanding of star clusters and their black holes,” says Marc Gillis of the University of Barcelona in Spain, co-author of the study.
Thanks to this discovery, astronomers for the first time discovered a black hole in a small group of stars. NGC 1850 is about 100 million years old – that’s just a brief moment in astronomical terms. For comparison: the Milky Way is 13.6 billion years old. By comparing them to more advanced black holes in older star clusters, scientists can understand how objects grow, such as when stars engulf or merge with other black holes.
The team collected data for two years
For two years, the team used data collected with the Moses spectrometer on an Eso VLT in the Chilean Atacama Desert. “Musa allowed us to observe densely populated regions, such as the interior of star clusters, and analyze the light from every star in the vicinity. The result is information on thousands of stars in one fell swoop, at least ten times more than any other instrument,” says Sebastian Kamann of the Institute of Technology. Liverpool Astrophysics Research Institute, co-author of the study. Finally, scientists were able to identify a strange star whose strange motion indicates the presence of a black hole. They confirmed the results on the basis of data from the University of Warsaw’s Gravitational-Optical Lens Experiment and the Hubble Space Telescope from NASA and the European Space Agency.
In astronomy, bigger is sometimes better – or at least more accurate. In addition to the VLT, ESO’s Very Large Telescope (ELT) is expected to operate in Chile in the next few years. Hopefully, this will allow astronomers to find more hidden black holes. “The ELT Institute is sure to revolutionize the field,” says Sarah Sarachino. “This will enable us to observe fainter stars in the same field of view and to look for black holes in very distant globular clusters.”
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