A team of international scientists discovered a dormant black hole outside of the Milky Way galaxy for the first time.
The researchers found the black hole using six years of observations of the Tarantula Nebula by the Fibre Large Array Multi Element Spectrograph instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.
The newly discovered black hole is at least 10 times the mass of our sun and orbits a hot, blue star weighing 25 times the sun’s mass, making it part of a binary system now known as VFTS243, according to the study published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy on July 18.
Paul Crowther, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Sheffield, described the discovery as “very exciting.”
“Although a number of ‘dormant’ black hole candidates have been proposed, this is the first to be unambiguously detected outside our galaxy,” Crowther said in a statement.
A black hole is considered dormant if it does not emit high levels of X-ray radiation, which is how black holes are typically found.
Dormant black holes are particularly hard to spot because they do not interact much with their surroundings.
Tomer Shenar from the Institute of Physics and Astronomy said that they made the discovery through the process of elimination.
The researchers said that they searched nearly 1,000 massive stars in the Tarantula Nebula region of the Large Magellanic Cloud near our galaxy.
Shenar also said that the star that gave rise to the black hole “appears to have collapsed entirely, with no sign of a previous explosion.”
“Evidence for this ‘direct-collapse’ scenario has been emerging recently, but our study arguably provides one of the most direct indications. This has enormous implications for the origin of black-hole mergers in the cosmos,” Shenar further said.
© Fourth Estate® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.