Dormant Black Hole Discovered Outside Our Galaxy for the First Time

This artist’s impression shows what the binary system VFTS 243 might look like. The sizes of the two binary components are not to scale: In reality, the blue star is about 200,000 times larger than the black hole.

An elusive type of black hole has been discovered in a neighboring galaxy for the first time, according to a new study based on observations from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope.

Dormant stellar-mass black holes, which form when massive stars reach the end of their lives, are particularly hard to spot since they do not interact much with their surroundings. This is because, unlike most black holes, dormant ones don’t emit high levels of X-ray radiation.

While thought to be fairly common cosmic phenomenon, this type of black hole previously had not been “unambiguously detected outside our galaxy,” according to the team of US and European researchers involved in the study.

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The newly detected black hole, called VFTS 243, is at least nine times the mass of our sun, and it orbits a hot, blue star weighing 25 times the sun’s mass, making it part of a binary system.

“It is incredible that we hardly know of any dormant black holes, given how common astronomers believe them to be,” said study coauthor Pablo Marchant, an astronomer at KU Leuven, a university in Belgium, in a news release.

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SOURCE: CNN, Katie Hunt

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