• Sat. May 18th, 2024

Scientists uncover the biggest black hole in the Milky Way – Science & Technology

BySamantha Johnson

Apr 17, 2024
Scientists uncover the biggest black hole in the Milky Way – Science & Technology

Astronomers have recently discovered the largest stellar black hole in the Milky Way, named Gaia BH3, with a mass 33 times that of the Sun. The discovery was made from data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, which is dedicated to mapping the Milky Way galaxy. Gaia BH3 is located 2,000 light years away from Earth in the Aquila constellation.

Using Gaia’s telescope, astronomers were able to precisely measure the orbits of stars and determine that the invisible companion of one star had a mass 33 times that of the Sun, confirming it was a black hole. Further observations from on-the-ground telescopes confirmed that this was the largest stellar black hole discovered in the Milky Way so far.

The discovery of Gaia BH3 was unexpected and considered a rare find in astronomical research. Scientists noticed a “wobbling” motion in a companion star orbiting the black hole, leading to the identification of the massive black hole. This stellar black hole was created from the collapse of a massive star, unlike supermassive black holes whose origins are still unknown.

Gaia BH3 is classified as a “dormant” black hole since it is too far from its companion star to strip it of matter and does not emit X-rays. Gaia’s telescope has previously identified two other inactive black holes in the Milky Way, making this the third discovery of its kind.

Gaia has been in operation for the past 10 years, delivering a 3D map of the positions and motions of over 1.8 billion stars in 2022. This latest discovery of Gaia BH3 sheds light on the diversity of black holes in our galaxy and opens up new possibilities for astronomical research.

By Samantha Johnson

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