In 1916, Karl Schwarzchild theorized the existence of black holes as a resolution to Einstein’s field equations for his Theory of General Relati

Astronomers Find a Sun-like Star Orbiting a Nearby Black Hole

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2022-09-23 16:00:10

In 1916, Karl Schwarzchild theorized the existence of black holes as a resolution to Einstein’s field equations for his Theory of General Relativity. By the mid-20th century, astronomers began detecting black holes for the first time using indirect methods, which consisted of observing their effects on surrounding objects and space. Since the 1980s, scientists have studied supermassive black holes (SMBHs), which reside at the center of most massive galaxies in the Universe. And by April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration released the first image ever taken of an SMBH.

These observations are an opportunity to test the laws of physics under the most extreme conditions and offer insights into the forces that shaped the Universe. According to a recent study, an international research team relied on data from the ESA’s Gaia Observatory to observe a Sun-like star with strange orbital characteristics. Due to the nature of its orbit, the team concluded that it must be part of a black hole binary system. This makes it the nearest black hole to our Solar System and implies the existence of a sizable population of dormant black holes in our galaxy.

The research was led by Kareem El-Badry, a Harvard Society Fellow astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA). He was joined by researchers from CfA, MPIA, Caltech, UC Berkely, the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Observatoire de Paris, MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and multiple universities. The paper that describes their findings will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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