Science

Astronomers find stellar black hole so large it shouldn't exist

Astronomers find stellar black hole so large it shouldn't exist”

LB-1, as the massive black hole is called, is about 15 light-years away from Earth.

Scientists recently discovered a black hole so massive that is yet to be explained by theory, according to a new study.

"The mass black holes should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most current models of stellar evolution", said Liu Jifeng, a professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of China and head researcher of the study, in a news release.

If you think the hole in your pocket is big then get ready for a black hole with a mass 70 times greater than the Sun.

LB-1 is not the biggest black hole ever discovered - but it may be the largest of its kind.

Scientists thought before the discovery of the new black hole that very massive stars with the chemical composition found in our Galaxy would shed most of their gas in powerful stellar winds as their end of life approached. "Therefore, they should not leave behind such a massive remnant". The mass of the newly discovered black hole is estimated to be about 70 times greater than the Sun. Liu's staff, nonetheless, sought out stars that are orbiting inactive black holes, that are obvious exclusively by their gravitational pull.

"Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation", Liu said.

Most black holes are found via their dramatic activity in X-rays or gamma rays, which are emitted as the behemoths gobble up nearby gas and dust.

This observational technique was first proposed by the visionary English scientist John Michell in 1783, but it has only become feasible with recent technological improvements in telescopes and detectors.

Scientists used the world's largest optical telescopes-Spain's Gran Telescopio Canarias and the US's Keck I-to determine the system's physical parameters. However, LB-1 has so much mass that should have been "blown away".

This remarkable result along with the LIGO-Virgo detections of binary black hole collisions during the past four years really points towards a renaissance in our understanding of black hole astrophysics. The other theory that has been considered is that the black hole was created from a "fallback supernova".

This discovery forces us to re-examine our models of how stellar-mass black holes form. Europe's Gaia space telescope, which precisely measures the movements of a billion stars, has suggested that the distance to this black hole might be only about 7,000 light-years, or roughly half the distance the Chinese team calculated.

An artist's rendition of LB-1, a massive black hole discovered by scientists in the Milky Way Galaxy.



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