A “black hole” extremely close to Earth has been discovered: larger than the Sun

A “black hole” extremely close to Earth has been discovered: larger than the Sun

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Researchers, however, say there is nothing to be afraid of.

It has long been known that black holes are the most dangerous objects in the Universe. They can even devour an entire planet. Scientists from France have unfortunately discovered another black hole in the galaxy. They warn that from an astronomical point of view it is extremely close to us. However, there seems to be no reason to be afraid.

The discovered Gaia BH3 is located at a distance of 2 thousand light years from Earth in the constellation Aquila. This makes it the second closest known black hole to Earth after Gaia BH1, which is about 1,500 light-years away.

Paris Observatory astronomer Pasquale Panuzzo assures that there is “no reason to be afraid”: “The black hole is close to us, on the scale of our galaxy. But it’s still 2,000 light years away, 500 times further than Proxima Centauri, and won’t get much closer in the future.”

The Gaia BH3 black hole is not in its own solar system, but in a “binary system” consisting of a black hole and a star, which is quite rare.

Interestingly, the star is orbiting the black hole, and this gives the star a strange “wiggle” motion. The fluctuations were measured over several years by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, located about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

Additional data from other telescopes, including ESO in Chile, confirmed that the mass of this black hole is 33 times the mass of the Sun. Dr Panuzzo and his colleagues say Gaia BH3 is a “stellar black hole”, so it is in the lowest classification when it comes to measuring the mass of black holes.

However, Gaia BH3 is still the second largest black hole in our galaxy. The largest black hole in the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*, located at the center of the galaxy, has a solar mass of about 4 million and spins so fast that it takes the shape of a football.

However, Sagittarius A* is 26,670 light-years from Earth, 13 times farther than Gaia BH3.

How exactly the newly discovered binary system (with a star orbiting a black hole) came into being will be the subject of future research.

However, Dr Panuzzo, who is the main author of the study, the results of which were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, has some theories: “The classic scenario is that the system consists of a massive star (which collapsed to form a black hole) and a low-mass star (the one we see today). Another scenario is that the low-mass companion star was captured by the black hole after its birth. We have several hints that the latter scenario is more likely.”

Earlier this year, another team of scientists discovered the brightest and hungriest black hole yet. Its name is J0529-4351. It has a mass 17 billion times the mass of the Sun and consumes a star per day.

Due to the enormous gravitational pull, black holes grow in mass, capturing nearby objects, be it stars, planets and even other black holes.

Another team recently unveiled an incredible map of 1.3 million supermassive black holes living at the centers of other galaxies.

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