Scientists have found a black hole that is not only the smallest ever discovered, but also the closest to Earth.
The black hole is located in the Milky Way galaxy – and is 1,500 light-years from here, in a constellation called Monoceros – Greek for a “single-horned rhinoceros.” As a nod to the compact size of the black hole, as well as the name of the constellation, scientists have called it “Unicorn. ‘
And although black holes are quite common in the universe, as are their discoveries, what makes it unique is that it was so close to us and still managed to go undetected. It seems that the scientists did not pay much attention to it, because they did not think that a black hole could be so small – black holes generally have a solar mass (a unit of measurement) of 5 or more – which which means they are at least five times the mass of the sun. Unicornon the other hand, it is only 3 solar masses, or three times the mass of the sun.
“When I analyzed the data, this black hole – Unicorn “It just came out,” Tharindu Jayasinghe, who is pursuing a doctorate in astronomy at Ohio State University in the United States and led the study, told reporters.
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In the past, scientists have noticed that a giant red star in the sky was drawn by something – as if it were “dancing with an unseen partner,” Jonathan O’Callaghan, a science journalist, wrote in Quanta magazine. However, no one but Jayasingle stopped to believe that this invisible partner could really be a black hole.
Will soon publish in Monthly notifications from the Royal Astronomical Society, the study focused on this “unseen partner” armed with Jayasighe’s hypothesis and analyzed data from a wide range of telescopes and satellites. Based on the speed of the red star, its orbital period and the gravitational pull it seemed to experience, the researchers concluded that it could be a black hole and determined their curious solar mass.
“Just as the gravity of the moon distorts the Earth’s oceans, causing the sea to swell to and from the moon, producing high tides – just as the black hole distorts the star in a football-like shape with a longer axis than the other” Todd Thompson, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, who co-authored the study, said in a statement.
“The simplest explanation is that it is a black hole,” he added, “and in this case, the simplest explanation is most likely.”