Chinese astronomers discover unexpected huge stellar black hole

Katie Ramirez
November 29, 2019

The Milky Arrangement is estimated to hold 100 million stellar shaded holes but LB-1 is twice as big as anything else scientists idea imaginable, acknowledged Liu Jifeng, a National Immense Observatory of China professor who led the analysis. It was generally assumed these black holes could reach a mass of up to 20 times that of the sun, but the discovery of a "monster" black hole, with about 70 times the mass of the sun, has surprised Chinese astronomers.

Until now, scientists had estimated the mass of an individual stellar black hole in our galaxy at no more than 20 times that of the Sun, the researchers said. The new black hole they've found is more massive than they think it should be from the collapse of a single star in this system. The current view is that the stars in our galaxy can not easily make a black hole bigger than 45 times the mass of the sun's metallicity.

Until just a few years ago, stellar black holes could only be discovered when they gobbled up gas from a companion star, the researchers said.

"Now theorists will have to take up the challenge to explain its formation in a solar metallicity environment".

To counter this limitation, Liu and his team surveyed the sky with China's Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), looking for stars that orbit an invisible object, pulled by its gravity.

Some stellar black holes are detectable when they swallow gas from a companion star.

About two dozen black holes in our galaxy have been identified and measured with this method. The black hole seems too big to be the product of a single star collapsing, which poses questions for our theories of how black holes form. They found the black hole at the center of a galaxy located 9.9 billion light-years from Earth, and the galaxy itself has seven galactic neighbors.

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Dr Ziri Younsi from Mullard Space Science Laboratory added: "We have accomplished something many thought impossible by imaging the shadow of a black hole and it provides the strongest evidence to date that such evasive and enigmatic entities do indeed exist".

The discovery sighting of LB-1 proves that "over-massive stellar black holes exist even in our own backyard". Additional images from two of the world's largest optical telescopes - Spain's Gran Telescopio Canarias and the Keck I telescope in the United States - confirmed the size of LB-1, which the National Astronomical Observatory of China said was "nothing short of fantastic".

Researchers discovered the black hole which was found to be at least twice as large as thought was possible.

"Astronomers have often asked how big a black hole can stars make? Only one star in a thousand may be going round a black hole: it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack", said Professor Liu. The team is now planning to search for more black holes, to monitor the black hole and make a more refined estimate of its mass.

Alternatively, a supermassive black hole seed could come from a giant star, about 100 times the sun's mass, that ultimately forms into a black hole after it runs out of fuel and collapses.

David Reitze, the director of the gravitational wave detector LIGO, who was not involved in the study, commented on the findings.

How they're formed is mute poorly understood.

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