A team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and other institutes has discovered a black hole lying just 1000 light-years from Earth. The black hole is closer to our Solar System than any other found to date and forms part of a triple system that can be seen with the naked eye.
The team originally observed the system, called HR 6819, as part of a study of double-star systems. However, as they analysed their observations, they were stunned when they revealed a third, previously undiscovered body in HR 6819: a black hole.
The team found evidence for the invisible object by tracking its two companion stars using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. They say this system could just be the tip of the iceberg, as many more similar black holes could be found in the future.
The black hole in HR 6819 is estimated to contain the mass of about four of our Suns.
“There must be hundreds of millions of black holes out there, but we know about only very few. Knowing what to look for should put us in a better position to find them,” says ESO scientist Thomas Rivinius, who led the study.
Source/read more: ESO Instrument Finds Closest Black Hole to Earth | ESO