The death of a young star has created a black hole, and this one is the closest one to Earth ever observed. It is so close that the its two neighboring stars can be seen without the aid of a telescope.
When taking the entire Milky Way into account, “close” doesn’t mean what we are used to it meaning. The newly found black hole is 1000 light-years away, a light-year measuring 9.5 trillion kilometers (5.9 trillion miles). Regardless, that is considered to be in our neighborhood, in cosmic terms. The black hole previously thought to be closest is at a triple distance, approximately 3200 light-years.
The fact that a closer black hole has been discovered in the Southern Hemisphere, in the constellation Telescopium, suggests that others are out there. Scientists estimate there to be between 100 million and 1 billion black holes in our galaxy.
Scientists gound the closest known black hole to Earth
The difficulty lies in not being able to see the black holes. Their gravity is so strong that nothing escapes them, not even light. They mostly get noticed when they drag sections of nearby stars or other stellar objects into them. Most black holes, including this one, go undetected because they don’t have anything to gobble up in their vicinity, according to astronomers.
This black hole was discovered because a star’s orbit was out of the ordinary. The object is part of an ex-three star dance in HR6819, a solar system. The two super-hot stars that are left are too far to be dragged in, but the inner star’s orbit pattern is changed.
With the aid of a Chilean telescope, it was confirmed that an object four or five times the mass of our sun was exerting gravitational forces on the inner star. Astronomers reached the conclusion that the only thing able to do that is a black hole.