Astronomers May Have Discovered the First Wandering Black Hole

ByPhyllis R. Edwards

Jun 13, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


What’s happening

For the very first time, astronomers have utilised a quirk of gravity’s impact on starlight to place a “absolutely free-floating” black hole.

Why it matters

Right until now, the only way to spy on the mysterious cosmic objects was by hunting for the light mirrored by matter on a black hole’s perimeter.

Astronomers may perhaps have performed the seemingly difficult and noticed a wandering black gap for the 1st time. 

Black holes by themselves are invisible by definition due to the fact not even light can escape their extreme gravitational pull. In just the previous handful of decades, the worldwide collaboration powering the Function Horizon Telescope managed to photograph black holes for the initial time. But when we glimpse at these photos, the gentle that we see is truly the disk of warm fuel and materials circling about the edge of the black gap by itself. 

Occasionally black holes are evident simply because a person or numerous stars are orbiting them, as is the situation with the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. But scientists assume that there are hundreds of tens of millions of black holes drifting through the much more isolated corners of the cosmos.

Now teams of astronomers have documented what could be both a neutron star or a vagabonding lone wolf of a black hole cloaked in the inescapable ability of its possess gravity. This was finished for the 1st time by observing how the very same power distorts the light from a extra distant star, a phenomenon called gravitational microlensing. 

Now playing:
Watch this:

See the First Photo of the Milky Way’s Black Hole


“This is the first free-floating black hole or neutron star discovered with gravitational microlensing,” said University of California, Berkeley, astronomy professor Jessica Lu, in a statement. “With microlensing, we’re able to probe these lonely, compact objects and weigh them. I think we have opened a new window onto these dark objects, which can’t be seen any other way.”

Lu helped lead one of two teams that analyzed the same data of the microlensing event observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Their analysis has been accepted for an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Another team from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore calculated a slightly different mass for the object and concluded with a higher degree of confidence that it is, in fact, a black hole. That paper will be published in The Astrophysical Journal. 

“As much as we would like to say it is definitively a black hole, we must report all allowed solutions. This includes both lower-mass black holes and possibly even a neutron star,” Lu said.  

It is between 1.6 and 7.1 solar masses, according to the competing estimates. The lower mass allows for the possibility that the object might be a neutron star. If it’s at the higher end of the range, it becomes more indisputable that the object is a black hole.   

Whatever it is, the object goes by the labels MOA-2011-BLG-191 and OGLE-2011-BLG-0462 (OB110462, for short) and is 5,000 light-years from Earth, so there’s little worry of it sneaking up on us anytime soon.

The debate over exactly what type of cosmic character is bending the light from stars behind it may soon be settled. The Hubble Space Telescope is set to make more observations and collect more data on the object in the second half of 2022. 


Source link