Rogue black hole spotted on its own for the first time.


This NASA illustration depicts a solitary black hole in space, with its gravity warping the view of stars and galaxies in the background. (Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; background, ESA/Gaia/DPAC)

In recent research, astronomers may have discovered and measured the mass of a single stellar-mass black hole.

According to previous studies, massive stars with masses more than 20 times our sun’s die in supernova explosions, and their dense cores collapse to become black holes as they near the end of their existence.

According to main research author Kailash Sahu, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, “there should be roughly 100 million stellar-mass black holes in the Milky Way,” according to estimates of one out of every 1,000 stars. For comparison, a supermassive black hole weighs more than a trillion times the sun‘s mass.)

Related: How to find a black hole?

Black holes of stellar mass had previously only been seen in binary systems with companions like neutron stars. The vast majority of the Milky Way’s stellar-mass black holes, on the other hand, are expected to be singletons, according to Sahu.

Despite this, Sahu claims that “nobody has ever been able to detect an isolated black hole.” It’s hard to see black holes in the darkness of space since they absorb all light that hits them. Due to their interactions with their companions, black holes in binary systems may produce light or gravitational waves whose qualities indicate the existence of a black hole. On the other hand, Black holes do not have any companions to assist them in disclosing their existence.

According to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a stellar-mass black hole has been detected 5,150 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the Milky Way’s bulge.

With the discovery of isolated black holes, we now know they exist. “Black holes discovered in binary systems also have comparable masses. And I’m sure there are a lot of them around.”

Black holes’ strong gravitational forces, which distort the fabric of space and time, are at the heart of this finding. Because of this, gravitational lenses may be used as magnifying glasses.

This huge object’s mass may be determined by measuring the light-bending generated by it, according to Sahu.

Gravitational lensing occurrences “where a star steadily brightens and fades over days or months” are being tracked by a variety of ground-based survey projects, according to Sahu. “An intervening object, such as a star, white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole, is responsible for this microlensing event. The survey programs routinely detect an average of 2,000 microlensing occurrences each year. Black holes are believed to be responsible for a tiny fraction of them.”

The length of the brightening is proportional to the mass of the gravitational lensing object. The length of a black hole’s microlensing event is predicted to belong since it is expected to be vast. Adding to that, “a black hole is likely to be dark,” Sahu said. These are the major criteria that we utilize for our selection process: the event must last a long time, and the lens must not generate any light.

Gravitational lensing events of extended duration may generate stars with tiny masses that travel slowly around the sky. According to Sahu, one method to tell a black hole from a tiny star is that the light from the background stars is “enough to be measured with Hubble” when a black hole is isolated. A black hole will exist if Hubble measurements indicate a big deflection but no light from the lens.

An isolated black hole is the most probable source of the 270 days of microlensing seen by the Hubble Space Telescope and the ground telescope OGLE-2011-BLG-0462 combined.

After two years of preparation and six years of Hubble observations, Sahu said he was “extremely satisfied” with the astonishing findings. This was a black hole from the get-go; there was nothing else that could account for the deflections we saw.”

The researchers estimated the solitary black hole to have a mass of 7.1 times that of the sun. A speed of about 100,000 mph has also been discovered for this black hole (162,000 kph). There was evidence that this black hole had gotten a boost from the supernova that created it.

Scientists hope to detect additional isolated stellar-mass black holes thanks to future telescopes like Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, according to Sahu.

Also Read: What is the biggest star ever observed?


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