Scientists have found a small black hole that appears to be inactive swinging a star back and forth in a bizarre fashion.
Scientists have just spotted a star deep in space that appears to be orbiting a small black hole that is just four times the mass of our sun. Astronomers used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to closely examine star cluster NGC 3201 in the constellation Vela, where they spotted what looked to be a star exhibiting some “curious” behavior.
Basically, the star seemed to be swinging back and forth at incredible speed at a loop that lasted for just 167 days, according to the European Space Organization. So scientists realized it must be orbiting a black hole, only this was no ordinary black hole.
Scientists think they have found the first ever inactive black hole at the heart of a globular star cluster, and the first by using the trail of the gravitational pull of the black hole rather than using X-rays or radio waves. It’s a major finding that could help scientists better understand these star clusters as well as black holes.
“Astronomers using ESO’s MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely,” reads the ESO statement. “It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun — the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull. This important discovery impacts on our understanding of the formation of these star clusters, black holes, and the origins of gravitational wave events.
“Globular star clusters are huge spheres of tens of thousands of stars that orbit most galaxies. They are among the oldest known stellar systems in the Universe and date back to near the beginning of galaxy growth and evolution. More than 150 are currently known to belong to the Milky Way.”