Space Scientists May Have Found Black Holes They Never Knew Existed

  • Space Scientists May Have Found Black Holes They Never Knew Existed

Space Scientists May Have Found Black Holes They Never Knew Existed

After crunching the data, the scientists believe they found a black hole that has a low mass of about 3.3 times that of our Sun.

They form when some stars die, shrink into themselves, and explode.

The discovery proved that black holes can be bigger than previously known and the new study suggests it is possible there may also be a class of extra-small, relatively speaking, black holes, as well.

It had always been thought that known black holes were all between approximately five and 15 times the mass of the sun.

"We're showing this hint that there is another population out there that we have yet to really probe in the search for black holes", said Todd Thompson, a professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and lead author of a new study that shows that in their search scientists may have been missing an entire class of black holes that they didn't know existed.

"We're pretty sure that there must be many, many of these [mini black holes] in binary systems with stars out there in the galaxies, just that we haven't found them because they're hard to find".

Anything smaller than five times the mass of our host star, down to around twice as big, usually becomes a neutron star when it dies - something which astronomers class as a stellar zombie. Hypothetically, these mini black holes would only exist in binary systems.

According to Space.com, scientists have discovered a strange-looking black hole using a new detection method.

What is a black hole?

Neutron stars are created when giant stars die in supernovas and their cores collapse, with the protons and electrons essentially melting into each other to form neutrons. Their finding, in addition to sharing a novel way to search for black holes, published Thursday in the journal Science. In distant galaxies, on the other hand, researchers look for gravitational waves produced by the merging of two black holes or from a collision of neutron stars.

These are both important to study because astronomers can learn about the evolution of stars and black hole formation.

Professor Thompson and other astrophysicists had long suspected they might come in sizes outside the known range, and he made a decision to see if he could solve that mystery.

However, the problem is that many black holes in such star pairs don't emit enough strong signals. The two monstrous black holes were 31 times the mass of the sun and 25 times its mass, respectively.

Professor Thompson's team studied data from the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), which collected light from around 100,000 stars in the Milky Way. The other star remains in place, orbiting the space where the dead star once was. What's more, While narrowing down the list of stars to the most likely candidates, Thompson and his colleagues found a giant red star orbiting something smaller than the smallest known black hole but larger than any known neutron star. If they showed a change in wavelength, going from blue to red, it might suggest that the companion had turned into a black hole. He gave the data to a graduate research associate at Ohio State, Tharindu Jayasinghe, who compiled thousands of images of each potential binary system from ASAS-SN, the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. This indicates the presence of a black hole that is not now consuming any material.