For the first time, a new method has been used to search for a tiny black hole beyond the Milky Way.
Astronomers have developed a new method for spotting giant, invisible monsters lurking in deep space.
For the first time a small black hole was discovered by observing how it affects the motion of a nearby star. The gravity of black holes is so strong that not even light can escape them, meaning they are essentially dark spaces in space and virtually invisible with conventional optics.
Scientists look for black holes by searching for evidence of their effect on their environment and other nearby objects. This could be the glow they emit as they suck up matter or gravitational waves that are rippled into the universe when a black hole collides with a massive neutron star.
Although most small black holes are not producing flashes or collisions, astronomers need to look for less obvious indicators that one is present in a distant star system.
“When they form a system with a star, they will affect its motion in a subtle but detectable way, so we can detect them with sophisticated instruments,” Stefan Dreisler of the University of Göttingen in Germany said in a statement. Told.
Drezler is part of an international team that detected a black hole in the star cluster NGC 1850 in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy about 160,000 light-years away, using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. It is believed that for the first time a black hole has been discovered beyond our galaxy by observing its effect on a nearby star.
“Similar to Sherlock Holmes tracking down a criminal gang from their missteps, we’re looking at every single star in this cluster with a magnifying glass in one hand, trying to find some evidence for the presence of a black hole. but without looking directly at them,” he says. Sarah Sarascino from Liverpool John Moores University, who led the research. “The result shown here represents only one of the wanted criminals, but when you’ve found one, you’re well on your way to searching for many others in different groups.”
A paper on the discovery will be published in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Researchers say the new tool provides a powerful way to identify more black holes and understand how enigmatic objects form and evolve.
“What we discover will be important for our future understanding of stellar clusters and the black holes they contain,” says study co-author Mark Giles from the University of Barcelona, Spain.
This could include a deeper understanding of how black holes spread by feeding on stars and even merging with other black holes. Check out the first black hole nutrition pyramid you’ll see in your nearest astronomy orbit.