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The Gaia Space Telescope detects two black holes near Earth – although they are “invisible”.

The Gaia Space Telescope detects two black holes near Earth – although they are “invisible”.

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from: Tanya Banner

It is very difficult to detect black holes in space. © imago images / YAY Images

Two of the newly discovered black holes are closer to Earth than any previously known object. The search found it only through an indirect method.

Heidelberg – With the help of the European Space Agency’s Gaia space probe, a research team has discovered two black holes that are closer to Earth than any previously known. Black hole. “Gaia BH1” is located 1,560 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, while “Gaia BH2” is found 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus. The European Space Agency wrote in one communication.

Black holes are literally “invisible” because there is no light escaping from them that you can see. Therefore, they can only be detected based on the impact on their environment. Each of the black holes has about ten solar masses – such a large mass affects stars, for example. The research team observing these two objects became aware of a strange “wiggle” in the movement of stars across the sky. For experts, the strange motion was an indication that the stars must be orbiting a very massive object. Since no bright glowing object could be seen, the research group ruled out that these could be binary star systems.

Two black holes have been discovered near Earth

Instead, it appears to be a new population of black holes: its distance from the stars it orbits is much greater than in other binary systems previously known to be black holes. “What distinguishes this new group of black holes from those already known is their great separation from their companion stars. These black holes are discovered by Karim El-Badry, who researches at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and discovered the two. They may have a very different formation history than X-ray binary black holes, the study was in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society published.

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The Gaia probe measures the position and motion of billions of stars in space. The movement of the stars allows experts to see if they are affected by the gravitational pull of other objects. “The accuracy of the Gaia data was important to this discovery,” confirms Timo Prust, who is participating in the “Gaia” mission.

The black hole “Gaia BH2” is actually “invisible”

Although black holes do not emit visible light, most of the time they are visible at certain wavelengths. When the material is swallowed, it may emit X-rays or be seen with radio telescopes. But even NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope and the Meerkat radio telescope in South Africa were unable to detect any radiation from the Gaia PH2 black hole.

“Even if we don’t discover anything, this information is very valuable because it tells us a lot about the black hole’s surroundings,” says astronomer Yvette Cendez, who helped discover the second black hole. “Since we didn’t see any radio light, this tells us that the black hole isn’t a massive feeder and doesn’t pass many particles through the event horizon.” The research team now wants to find out why.

Gaia BH1 and Gaia BH2 black holes have orbits that are widely separated from any known black hole and have been found relatively close to Earth. This leads experts to suspect that many more similar black holes await discovery. “This is very exciting because it indicates that these black holes are actually more common in wide orbits – more common than in binary stars, where the black hole and star are very close together.” But the problem is finding them,” explains Cendez, who is already looking forward to the next data release from the Gaia mission: “It will contain many of these mysterious black hole stars,” she is certain. (Unpaid bill)

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