/‘Needle in a haystack’ black hole discovered in neighboring galaxy

‘Needle in a haystack’ black hole discovered in neighboring galaxy

Key idea: The dormant stellar-mass black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud is the first to be confirmed outside of the Milky Way.

Original author and publication date: Robert Lee – July 18, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We have detected for the first time a black hole in another galaxy. What else are we about to detect for the first time? Life?

From the article:

Scientists have spotted an example of a black hole that should be extremely common but is quite difficult to find.

The challenge of discovering what astronomers call dormant black holes comes from the fact that these objects are not actively feeding on matter like gas, dust or stellar material stripped from a companion star. With no feeding, these black holes don’t blast out X-rays, which scientists use to spot typical black holes. The new discovery could have ramifications for understanding how stars collapse at the end of their lives, according to the researchers.

“We identified a needle in a haystack,” Tomer Shenar, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and lead author on the new research, said in a statement(opens in new tab) .

This black hole may be extraordinary for another reason too. Stellar-mass black holes typically form when massive stars run out of the fuel needed to continue nuclear fusion. The end of fusion also ends the outward pressure that supports the star against complete gravitational collapse. The so-called core collapse that follows is usually accompanied by a massive cosmic explosion called a supernova that blows away the star’s outer layers.

However, the situation for the black hole in VFTS 243 seems to be different, with no visible traces of a supernova accompanying the star’s collapse.

“The star that formed the black hole in VFTS 243 appears to have collapsed entirely, with no sign of a previous explosion,” Shenar said. “Evidence for this ‘direct-collapse’ scenario has been emerging recently, but our study arguably provides one of the most direct indications. This has enormous implications for the origin of black-hole mergers in the cosmos.”

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