Earth’s closest black hole is discovered just 1,000 light years away

Holey moley! Earth’s closest black hole is discovered just 1,000 light years away – close enough to see its stars orbiting with the naked eye on a clear night

  • Experts from the La Silla Observatory in Chile have discovered the hidden hole
  • The black hole is hidden in a system called HR 6819 with two companion stars
  • Researchers Detected How Hole Disrupts Movement Nearest to Stars
  • It is one of the first black holes of stellar mass which appears as really “ black ”

The closest black hole to Earth was discovered just 1,000 light years away – close enough to see its fellow stars with the naked eye on a clear night.

Located in the constellation Telescopium, the hole is part of a so-called “triple system – the one named” HR 6819 “- with its two accompanying stars.

The presence of a hidden black hole in HR 6819 was discovered by researchers from the La Silla Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile.

The team used a 2.2-meter telescope to track the movement of companion stars – and reveal the influence of the orbiting black hole.

However, no telescope or binocular is needed to see the stars from Earth – and they are visible from the southern hemisphere to the naked eye on a clear, dark night.

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“We were totally surprised when we realized that it was the first star system with a black hole visible to the naked eye,” said author and astronomer Petr Hadrava of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic. Czech in Prague.

The team initially observed the HR 6819 system as part of a study of double star systems.

Upon analyzing their observations, however, they were amazed to discover a third body, previously undetected – the black hole.

The results show that one of the two visible stars orbits an invisible object every 40 days, while the second star keeps a greater distance.

The black hole hidden in HR 6819 is one of the very first black holes of stellar mass known – formed by the collapse of a star – which does not interact violently with its environment and therefore appears really black.

However, the team was able to locate its presence and calculate its mass by studying the orbit of the star which orbits it more closely.

“This system contains the closest black hole to Earth that we know of,” said author and astronomer Thomas Rivinius.

“An invisible object whose mass is at least four times that of the Sun can only be a black hole.”

The team believes that this triple system could lead to the discovery of many similar black holes in the future.

Astronomers have only spotted a few dozen black holes in our galaxy to date, almost all of them interacting strongly with their environment and making their presence known by releasing powerful X-rays.

Scientists believe that during the life of the Milky Way, many other stars should have collapsed in black holes at the end of their lives.

The team says that the discovery of a silent and invisible black hole in HR 6819 provides clues to the location of these other missing holes.

Astronomers also believe that the revelation could illuminate a second two-star system, called LB-1, which could also house a black hole.

“There must be hundreds of millions of black holes, but we know very little about them,” said Dr. Rivinius.

“Knowing what to look for should put us in a better position to find them.”

The full results of the study were published in the journal Astronomy and astrophysics.


Black holes are so dense and their gravitational pull is so strong that no form of radiation can escape them – not even light.

They act as intense sources of gravity which suck up the dust and gas around them. Their intense gravitational pull is thought to be what the stars in galaxies revolve around.

How they are formed is still unclear. Astronomers believe they can form when a large cloud of gas up to 100,000 times larger than the sun collapses in a black hole.

Many of these black hole seeds then merge to form much larger supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of all known massive galaxies.

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Alternatively, a supermassive black hole seed could come from a giant star, about 100 times the mass of the sun, which eventually forms a black hole after running out of fuel and collapsing.

When these giant stars die, they also become “supernovaes”, a huge explosion that expels matter from the outer layers of the star in deep space.


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