Black holes remain the most mysterious objects in the entire Universe, although there are billions out there in the Cosmos. Astronomers are once again baffled by one of them.
According to San Francisco Chronicle, astronomers from UC Berkeley can now boast about the first discovery of a free-floating black hole after they’ve used the gravitational microlensing technique. The research team was led by Cal graduate student Casey Lam, as well as Jessica Lu, an astronomy professor.
The free-floating black hole is located only a few thousands of light-years away from Earth
The newfound black hole is located at a pretty short distance to Earth, judging at an astronomical scale: somewhere between 2,280 and 6,260 light-years away.
Black holes can’t normally be seen since they don’t emit any light. Furthermore, their gravity is so strong that they absorb even light that gets too close.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the scientists aren’t 100 percent sure that they’re dealing with a newfound black hole. Instead, it could be just a neutron star.
This is the first free-floating black hole or neutron star discovered with gravitational microlensing,
With microlensing, we’re able to probe these lonely, compact objects and weigh them. I think we have opened a new window onto these dark objects, which can’t be seen any other way.
If black holes are weird enough, neutron stars aren’t too “normal,” either. Neutron stars can be defined as the collapsed cores of massive supergiant stars. Neutron stars are extremely dense and small, as one such object measures about 20 kilometers in its diameter. As for how dense neutron stars are, one sugar cube of matter taken from such a cosmic object would weigh roughly one hundred million tons on our planet.