Closest known black hole to Earth discovered 1,600 light-years away, scientists say


Astronomers have discovered the closest known black hole to Earth, just 1,600 light-years away.

Scientists reported Friday that this black hole is 10 times more massive than our sun. And it’s three times closer than the previous record-holder.

It was identified by observing the motion of its companion star, which orbits the black hole at about the same distance as Earth orbits the sun.

The black hole was initially identified using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, said Kareem El-Badry of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Closest known black hole to Earth discovered 1,600 light-years away, scientists say
This illustration provided by NOIRLab in November 2022 depicts the closest black hole to Earth and its sun-like companion star. The binary system, about 1,600 light years from Earth, was initially identified using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft. Astronomers followed up with the International Gemini Observatory in Hawaii to confirm their findings. 

International Gemini Observatory/ NOIRLab/ NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine/M. Zamani/AP


El-Badry and his team followed up with the International Gemini Observatory in Hawaii to confirm their findings, which were published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The researchers are uncertain how the system formed in the Milky Way. Named Gaia BH1, it’s located in the constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.

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Back in May, Harvard researchers released the first-ever photograph of Sagittarius A*, a black hole which sits at the core of the Milky Way. Sagittarius A* is about 26,000 light-years from earth. 



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