Scientists have discovered a small black hole lurking next to a star in the constellation Ophiuchus about 1,600 light-years away, the closest known black hole to Earth, named Gaia BH1.
Black holes are the densest objects in the universe, whether they are ultra-small stellar black holes hiding in any dark corner, or supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.
They all have such strong gravitational fields that even the fastest photons cannot escape the event horizon.
There is a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and scientists believe that there are at least 100 million stellar black holes in the Milky Way.
It’s just that they are very quiet, low-key and isolated, and if the black hole is not actively feeding (that is, in a dormant state), they are basically integrated with their surroundings and difficult to find.
Previously, scientists had discovered a 270-day microlensing event “MOA-2011-BLG-191/OGLE-2011-BLG-0462”.
It could be a stellar black hole about 7.1 times the mass of the sun blocking the way of distant light, 5,150 light-years away from Earth.
Recently, scientists analyzed data from the Gemini Northern Telescope and the Gaia satellite, and further discovered that a black hole named Gaia BH1 is lurking around a star.
The former is only 10 times the mass of the sun and is the closest small black hole known to Earth, only about 1,560 light-years away.
There have also been many previous studies claiming to have discovered systems in which black holes and stars orbit each other, but almost all of them have been dismissed by subsequent observations.
The study strongly confirms the discovery of a binary system containing a star and a dormant black hole.
Although the standard binary system evolution model cannot explain Gaia BH1, astronomers need to further examine how the system formed.
And how many dormant black holes the universe might have left waiting to be poached.