The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about blacka hole hiding somewhere in the depths of our galaxy almost always becomes a kind of giant space monster, absorbing absolutely everything in its path. At the same time, according to the portal livescience.com, a completely new class of black holes may be hidden in the Universe, whose sizes can be much smaller than scientists ever imagined.
Where is the closest black hole to Earth?
Black holes are massive celestial objects whosethe gravitational attraction is so great that they are able to absorb everything that comes too close to them. In the past, all black holes were supermassive stars or supernovae that exploded to form a new object with truly unique properties.
In order to find the black holes in ourgalaxy, astronomers measure the x-rays emitted by a particular black hole when they are repelled from neighboring stars. So, the closest place to our planet where all laws of time and space are violated can be considered the black hole V616 Monocerotis, located 3,000 light years from us, about the features of which we talked about in one of the previous articles.
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Not so long ago, a group of researchers wonderedthe question is whether there can be relatively low-mass black holes in the Universe that could not emit X-ray signals in the way their large “brothers” do.
Such hypothetical black holes are probablyexist in systems with binary stars, while spinning quite far from them. Hidden from observers by pair stars, the x-ray radiation of such black holes will remain invisible to researchers. In order to confirm or refute such an original theory, scientists analyzed a huge number of paired stars, as a result of which certain changes in the spectra and wavelengths of light from each of these objects were noticed. So, a shift towards more blue or redder waves meant that the star could revolve around an invisible satellite, which could well be a small black hole.
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Thanks to this method, researcherswere able to detect a massive dark object enclosed in a gravitational hug with a fast-rotating giant star at a distance of about 10,000 light-years in the far corners of our galaxy. Researchers estimated the mass of this object is approximately 3.3 times greater than that of our Sun, which indicates the fact that the detected object cannot be a neutron star due to too much mass, while losing the same indicator to any known black hole .
To understand the nature of the detected object,the researchers suggested that in the universe there is a special class of black holes, the mass of which makes them a cross between neutron stars and classical black holes.
As you know, the most massive neutron star,known to scientists, has a mass of 2.1 times the mass of our Sun, while the least massive black hole has long been considered an object whose mass is about five to six times the mass of our Sun. Nevertheless, the lower limit of the mass of an open object turned out to be the smallest in the entire history of observations and only 2.6 times exceeds the mass of our Sun. Such an indicator, according to astronomers, is the upper limit on how large a neutron star can be: just a little more, and the neutron star will turn into a black hole.
Thus, discovered dark and quitea mysterious object can be either the most massive neutron star ever discovered in the Universe, or the smallest black hole. In order to understand this incomprehensible question, researchers will soon have to use the Gaia spacecraft from the European Space Agency, which will help to collect the necessary information in the upcoming mission.