Dormant Black Hole verified by debunkers in binary system outside our Galaxy

A dormant black hole is verified by skeptic Black Hole police astronomers.

ESO/L. Calçada, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Artist”s impression of the black holes studied by the astronomers, using ULTRACAM attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The systems — designated Swift J1753.5-0127 and GX 339-4 — each contain a black hole and a normal star separated by a few million kilometres. That’s less than 10 percent of the distance between Mercury and our Sun. Because the two objects are so close to each other, a stream of matter spills from the normal star toward the black hole and forms a disc of hot gas around it. As matter collides in this so-called accretion disc, it heats up to millions of degrees. Near the black hole, intense magnetic fields in the disc accelerate some of this hot gas into tight jets that flow in opposite directions away from the black hole. The orbital period of Swift J1753.5-0127 — just 3.2 hours — is the fastest found for a black hole. The orbital period of GX 339-4, by contrast, is about 1.7 days. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

A stellar-mass black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbor galaxy to our own, has been found by a team of international experts, renowned for debunking several black hole discoveries. “For the first time, our team got together to report on a black hole discovery, instead of rejecting one,” says project leader Tomer Shenar. Furthermore, they discovered that the star that gave rise to the black hole vanished with no trace of a massive explosion. Six years of observations with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) resulted in the finding.

Despite the nickname ‘black hole police’, the team actively encourages scrutiny, and hopes that their work, published today (July 18, 2022) in Nature Astronomy, will enable the discovery of other stellar-mass black holes orbiting massive stars, thousands of which are predicted to exist in Milky Way and in the Magellanic Clouds.



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