A cropped image showing the location of the nearest black hole to Earth. Sloan Digital Sky Survey / S. Chakrabart et al.

Scientists Find the Nearest Black Hole to Earth, And It’s Massive

The researcher behind the discovery says it is the nearest black hole to Earth, and it is practically in our cosmic backyard.


Have you ever wondered how many black holes there are in the universe? If you have, the answer might strike you by surprise. The observable universe contains approximately 40 billion billion black holes. This is according to a recent study which you can read here. The Universe is filled with fascinating and mysterious objects known as black holes. We barely managed to photograph one in another galaxy. This means we don’t know much about their formation, life, and what exactly happens inside. Now, astronomers have made a surprising discovery. Scientists report discovering a “monster” black hole with a mass about 12 times that of the sun. The discovery of the black hole is set to appear in a study to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The lead author is Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti, a physics professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). According to Dr. Chakrabarti, “it is the nearest black hole to the sun,” at a distance of only 1,550 light years. “So, it’s practically in our backyard.” Stars and other objects within their vicinity can feel the gravitational force of black holes. However, they cannot be seen like visible stars because light cannot escape them.


Non-Interacting Black Holes

Black Holes can sometimes drive galaxy formation and evolution. Such as in the case of supermassive black holes located at the heart of galaxies, Dr. Chakrabarti explained. As of yet, it is unclear whether these non-interacting black holes play a role in galactic dynamics in the Milky Way galaxy.  Additionally, our galaxy’s internal dynamics and formation may be affected by them if they are numerous.” Using data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite mission, Dr. Chakrabarti and colleagues found the black hole over the summer. They did so after studying more than 200,000 binary stars.

Researchers searched for objects whose brightness was attributed to one visible star but that were reported to have large companion masses. In this sense, you have good grounds for believing that the companion is dark. Multiple telescopes were used to measure the spectrographic properties of interesting sources. These included the Automated Planet Finder in California, Chile’s Giant Magellan Telescope, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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