By Robert Gibson Telegraph Local__See My Blog
Could this be a learning experience for all scientist across the world? Or is this a rare exception. Scientists have found many truly massive black holes in the cosmos, some of which weigh in at millions of billions of times the mass of our sun. Black holes located within our galaxy are usually no more than 25 times bigger than the mass of our sun.
Here’s something in our backyard that’s tops out at 68 times more massive. Huh? How can this be?
One theory is that the calculated distance of the black hole can be off. Europe’s Gaia space telescope, which precisely measures the movements of a billion stars, has suggested that the distance to this black hole might be only about 7,000 light-years, or roughly half the distance the Chinese team calculated. If that’s true, the black hole would be only 10 times the mass of the sun.
Another theory is that the star, LB1, would be less luminous and less massive if it were much closer. But the observed temperature cannot be explained with less luminosity.
Finding neighboring black holes has been a challenge in the past. Simply because the only way to find a black hole was to detect a bright light being emitted using X-ray technology. What we were actually seeing, was a star being eaten by a black hole using our early technology.
Majority of black holes in our galaxy are not consuming other stars though. So it was imperative to search for them using other means. Thanks to China, a star called LB1 was discovered using a Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST). This device was able to track stars orbiting something invisible, like black holes.
Professors at the National Astronomical Observatory of China, like Liu Jifeng, next step was to use the world’s largest telescope from the United States and Spain to find the results of a lifetime.
Supermassive black holes bigger than what was discovered in our galaxy do exist, but only in the center of other galaxies. Their mass can be millions of times bigger than our sun’s. Another type of black holes are stellar, which are born from the death of a star. They don’t normally exceed over 150 times.
A professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan, Joel Bregman said,
“Is this object extremely unusual? Or is it more common than we thought? If we look at 20 [black holes] and find two of three of these things, that would be truly amazing. It would change ideas of how massive stars evolve and die.”The Washington Post