A new research based on data from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope claims that an elusive form of black hole has been seen for the first time in a nearby galaxy.
Massive stars that die and produce dormant stellar-mass black holes are extremely difficult to find since they barely interact with their environment. This is due to the fact that inactive black holes, in contrast to most black holes, don’t release a lot of X-ray radiation.
This kind of black hole has not yet been “unambiguously discovered beyond our galaxy,” despite being considered to be a reasonably common cosmic phenomena, according to the team of US and European experts who worked on the study.
The recently discovered black hole, known as VFTS 243, is at least nine times as massive as our sun and is one of two black holes that make up a binary system. It circles a bright, blue star that is 25 times as massive as our sun.
Given how prevalent scientists think dormant black holes to be, it is astounding that we scarcely know of any, according to research coauthor Pablo Marchant, an astronomer at KU Leuven, a university in Belgium.
On Monday, the study was released in the scholarly journal Nature Astronomy.
This artist’s conception illustrates how the binary system VFTS 243 would seem. The two binary components’ sizes are not scaled: In actuality, the blue star dwarfs the black hole by a factor of 200,000.
This artist’s rendering illustrates how the binary system VFTS 243 would seem. The two binary components’ sizes are not scaled: In actuality, the blue star dwarfs the black hole by a factor of 200,000.
The researchers examined 1,000 enormous stars (each weighing at least eight times the mass of the sun) in the Tarantula Nebula region of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy close to the Milky Way, to locate the black hole, which cannot be directly viewed.
According to coauthor Tomer Shenar, who was working at KU Leuven in Belgium when the project started and is currently a Marie-Curie Fellow at Amsterdam University in the Netherlands, the finding was found through an exclusion procedure.
The stars that were a part of binary systems, or stars orbiting a cosmic partner, were first recognized by the astronomers. The companion was not observable in binary systems, so they turned their attention to those. Careful examination finally revealed that VFTS 243 was a hibernating black hole, he added via email.
“What we observe here is a star traveling around something ‘invisible’ that we cannot see in the data frequently (every 10 days or so),” Shenar said. This star has a mass that is around 25 times that of our Sun.
“According to the study, this other “object” must be at least nine times as huge as our Sun. What may weigh nine solar masses and not produce any light? This is the key component of the analysis. We are left with just one option: a black hole (or a large, invisible extraterrestrial).”
There may be more, but Shenar stated, “Only for this one could we prove the presence of a black hole unequivocally.”
The Fibre Large Array Multi Element Spectrograph (FLAMES) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope used six years of observations to discover the black hole. Astronomers may view more than a hundred objects simultaneously using FLAMES.
Police black holes
According to a news release, several of the study’s 40 authors are referred to as the “black hole police” in astronomical circles since they have disproved numerous earlier black hole discoveries.
According to the article, more than ten black hole binary system findings made in the last two years have been called into question. They were certain, though, that their finding was not a “false alarm.”
We took every step possible to exclude any other possibilities since we are aware of the difficulties, according to Shenar.
The study group said that they welcomed critique of their most recent findings.
Shenar stated, “In science, you’re never wrong unless someone shows you right, and I cannot guarantee that this would never happen — I just know that none of us can identify a problem in the study.