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Milky Way's first massive stellar blackhole unveiled 2000 light years away
Astronomers have found the most massive stellar black hole in our galaxy, thanks to the wobbling motion it induces on a companion star. This artist's impression shows the orbits of both the star and the black hole, dubbed Gaia BH3, around their common centre of mass.
Milky Way's first massive stellar blackhole unveiled 2000 light years away
by Robert Schreiber
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Apr 16, 2024

A team of astronomers has pinpointed the largest stellar black hole discovered in the Milky Way, utilizing data from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission. This newly identified black hole, exerting a unique 'wobbling' effect on its companion star, was initially detected through this anomalous motion. Verification efforts included observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO's VLT) and other terrestrial telescopes, confirming the black hole's mass at a substantial 33 solar masses.

Historically, stellar black holes in our galaxy have averaged around 10 solar masses. The previously largest known, Cygnus X-1, caps at 21 solar masses, making the new discovery significantly larger. This black hole, situated merely 2000 light-years away in the constellation Aquila and referred to as Gaia BH3, ranks as the second-nearest black hole to Earth. "Finding such a high-mass black hole in our proximity was completely unexpected," remarked Pasquale Panuzzo of the Observatoire de Paris, CNRS.

The validation of Gaia BH3's mass was assisted by data from the Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) on the VLT in Chile's Atacama Desert. These findings not only corroborated the Gaia mission data but also elucidated the properties of the companion star, allowing precise mass measurements.

The existence of similar massive black holes has been recognized outside our galaxy, believed to originate from metal-poor stars-those primarily composed of hydrogen and helium. Such stars theorized to retain more mass through their lifespans, potentially lead to the formation of larger black holes post-collapse. The metal-poor nature of BH3's companion suggests a similar origin, supporting this theory.

The study, headed by Panuzzo and published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, was released ahead of the next Gaia data unveiling, citing the discovery's unique nature. "Publishing early allows the global astronomy community immediate access to study this black hole," added co-author Elisabetta Caffau of CNRS.

Ongoing observations, including potential studies using the GRAVITY instrument on ESO's VLT Interferometer, are expected to shed further light on this black hole's characteristics and origins.

Research Report:Discovery of a dormant 33 solar-mass black hole (pre-release Gaia astrometry)

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Astronomers discover largest black hole in Milky Way: study
Paris (AFP) April 16, 2024
Astronomers identified the largest stellar black hole yet discovered in the Milky Way, with a mass 33 times that of the Sun, according to a study published on Tuesday. The black hole, named Gaia BH3, was discovered "by chance" from data collected by the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, an astronomer from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Observatoire de Paris, Pasquale Panuzzo, told AFP. Gaia, which is dedicated to mapping the Milky Way galaxy, located BH3 2,000 ligh ... read more

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