Astronomy Intelligent Design

Smithsonian Magazine: Nearest black hole’s position can be seen without a telescope

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If you are in the southern hemisphere, as were the ESO (European Southern Observatory) astronomers:

The pair of stars in a system called HR 6819 is so close to us that on a clear night in the Southern Hemisphere, a person might be able to spot them without a telescope. What that stargazer wouldn’t see, though, is the black hole hiding right there in the constellation Telescopium. At just 1,000 light-years away, it is the closest black hole to Earth ever discovered, and it could help scientists find the rest of the Milky Way’s missing black holes.

Megan Gannon, “Astronomers Discover the Closest Known Black Hole” at Smithsonian Magazine

It was discovered by accident:

The scientists originally became interested in the system, called HR 6819, because it had two very closely spaced stars.

One of the two stars of the system appeared to orbit the black hole every 40 Earth days. By studying its trajectory, they concluded that the black hole object was quite massive.

“An invisible object with a mass at least 4 times that of the Sun can only be a black hole,” Thomas Rivinius, lead author and ESO scientist, said in the statement.

Victor Tangermann, “Astronomers Find Nearest Black Hole to Earth, and It’s Strange” at Futurism

And it’s big:

The astronomers’ new analysis, led by ESO scientist Thomas Rivinius, shows that the unseen object is more than four times the mass of our sun. An object so big yet invisible must be a black hole.

Megan Gannon, “Astronomers Discover the Closest Known Black Hole” at Smithsonian Magazine

Makes one wonder how many of them there are out there.

One Reply to “Smithsonian Magazine: Nearest black hole’s position can be seen without a telescope

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Fascinating, I wonder if there are any even closer and how close they would have to be before their gravitational effects were noticeable.

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