Black holes: these mysterious eddies that will eventually swallow the universe. There are millions of them, but we know very few. But it is always better to know where and how far they are. We are supported by a team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory. They discovered the black hole closest to the solar system. It is "only" 1000 light years from Earth.
It is part of a triple system that can be seen with the naked eye. The team found clues to the invisible object by chasing the two companion stars. They used the 2.2-meter MPG / ESO telescope that was installed at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Scientists claim that this system could be the tip of the iceberg. Many more similar black holes could be found in the future.
At a glance
"We were very surprised to find the first star system with a black hole that can be seen with the naked eye," says Petr Hadrava. He is emeritus researcher at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and co-author of the research. The system is in the constellation of telescope. The system is so close to us that its stars can be seen without binoculars or a telescope. "This system contains the closest black hole to the solar system that we know of," adds Thomas Rivinius. He is the director of the study, published today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. They call it: A triple system with the naked eye and a non-accentuating black hole in the inner binary.
The team originally examined a system called HR 6819. When analyzing their observations, they were surprised to discover a third, previously undiscovered body: a black hole. It is one of the first star-hole black holes that does not interact violently with its surroundings.
To date, astronomers have found only a few dozen black holes in our galaxy. But it is believed that there is much more.
"There must be hundreds of millions of black holes out there. We know very few. If we know what to look for, we can find them better," said Rivinius.
This finding could illuminate a second system in the eyes of the astronomers of the European Southern Observatory. "There is another system called LB-1. It can also be a triple formed by two stars orbiting a black hole, but we need more observations to make sure," said Marianne Heida, co-author of the article. LB-1 is a little further from Earth. There are probably many more of these systems in the Milky Way, "he adds.
It is exciting to know that this discovery is just the tip of the iceberg. Soon more and more black holes will appear. At the moment you remain invisible and are waiting for his