The smallest known black hole is called a “rhinoceros” by researchers. It is not far from Earth – in astronomical dimensions.
Researchers from the United States of America have discovered the smallest known black hole. The black hole, which the researchers called the “unicorn”, contains about three solar masses and is only 1,500 light-years from Earth, and is located in the Milky Way. It is unusual to give a name to a black hole, but in this case there are two reasons: it is unique – a true “unicorn” and found in the constellation of Monoceros – in English: the rhinoceros. So far, there is no known black hole closer to Earth than a “rhinoceros”. However, there is no danger on Earth. So far, only a small number of black holes have been found that have such a small mass as the black hole in the constellation “Unicorn”.
The black hole appears to accompany the so-called red giant called V723 Mon, that is, it is connected to it by gravity. Researchers cannot be completely sure because they cannot see a black hole. Light is absorbed by black holes and cannot be made directly visible with even the most diverse astronomical instruments. But the black hole revealed one thing: the behavior of its companion star. V723 Mon has already been observed by many telescopes – including NASA’s Space Telescope “TESS” – and it is a known variable star with fluctuating brightness. The data is available to researchers, but has not yet been analyzed as did the team led by researcher Tharindu Jayasinghe of The Ohio State University.
Black hole “rhinoceros” near Earth: Researchers found it based on tidal deformation
“When we looked at the data, a black hole literally appeared,” says Jayasinghe, lead author of the study. Published in the “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” magazine. Become. The data showed that something “pulled” on the red giant and changed its shape. This effect is called “tidal distortion” and it is also present on Earth. “Just as the moon’s gravitational pull moves the oceans, amplifying them toward the moon and creating a tide, so does a black hole deform the star into a soccer ball,” explains Todd Thompson, co-author of the study. The simplest explanation for this phenomenon that researchers found in the data is a black hole – “in this case, the simplest explanation is the most likely solution,” Thompson asserts.
Black hole research: how small is a black hole?
Researchers were able to determine the mass of the black hole from the speed and orbital time of the red giant star and the way in which the tidal force distorted it. The “black rhinoceros” weighs three times the mass of the Sun, and thus falls into the category of black holes that astronomers recently assumed do exist. The existence of a black hole “The Unicorn” has already been proven. Confirmed by a second independent measurement from Japan.
After finding the first of these tiny black holes, co-author Thompson believes there will be more discoveries in the coming years. “I think the field is moving in this direction. We want to determine how many low, medium, and high mass black holes there are,” Thompson explains, “Every time you find one, there is an indication of which stars are collapsing, which ones explode, and which ones fall in between.” . The researchers’ goal is to find out what mass a collapsing star turns into a black hole and when it collapses into a neutron star instead.