Astronomers may have discovered the smallest and closest black hole to Earth in the sky in the unicorn constellation. According to them, this black hole is three times larger than the sun, and is about 1,500 light years away, more than 14 billion kilometers from our planet, according to Reuters.
The black hole forms a binary system with a very bright red dwarf star, which its discoverers have officially called the abbreviation V723 Mon.
“We called this black hole Unicorn, partly because V723 Mon is in the constellation Monoceros – but partly because it’s a completely unique system,” said Tharinda Jayasinghe of the University of Ohio. This astronomy graduate student is one of the lead authors of an article published in the monthly journal Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in which scientists describe the newly discovered black hole.
In their opinion, it is unprecedented that this black hole is so small. “Obviously, black holes form in a wide range of masses. But the existence of a black hole only three times the mass of the sun is a big surprise. There are no detailed models for how such a black hole forms,” said study co-author Chris Stanek.
Another surprise, according to astronomers, is the fact that this black hole is relatively close to us. However, an estimated 1,500 light-years away is still several times farther from the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, than the solar system. It is four light years from Earth. A supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy weighs about four million suns about 26,000 light-years away.
A black hole is a physical object with a strong gravitational pull that makes it bend time and space around itself, and even light cannot escape from it. The smallest black holes form when a certain type of star explodes and collapses at the end of their existence. According to qualified estimates, there are about 100 million of these corpses in the Milky Way alone.
Video: Scientists have released a unique image of the edge of a black hole
Scientists have published a unique image of the edge of a black hole | Video: European Commission