December 5, 2023

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A rare black hole has been spotted in the nearest star cluster to Earth

A rare black hole has been spotted in the nearest star cluster to Earth

a an invisible medium-mass black hole, Astronomers have discovered, lurking at the heart of Earth’s nearest globular cluster, 6,000 light-years away.

Intermediate mass black holes, weighing approx 100 to 100,000 times the mass of the SunThey appear to be rare, and astronomers have spotted some possible black holes in the vicinity of other galaxies, but also in the dense globular star clusters that orbit our galaxy.

Using the unique capabilities of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have focused on the core of globular star cluster Messier 4 (M4) to probe black holes with greater precision than previous surveys. Their study has been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The team led by Eduardo Vitral of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore discovered A The possibility of an intermediate mass black holeWhich weighs 800 times the mass of the Sun. This hole is not visible, but its mass was calculated by studying the motion of stars in their gravitational field. Specifically, the astronomers looked at twelve years of Hubble observations of M4. The European Space Agency (ESA) Gaia spacecraft also contributed. surveyed more than 6,000 stars that limited the cluster’s overall shape and mass.

However, because intermediate-mass black holes in globular clusters are so elusive, Vitral warns that “Instead, we could There is a stellar mechanism about which we know nothingat least in the context of current physics.”

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