This isolated black hole is roaming our Milky Way galaxy

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 26-11-2022 15:11 IST | Created: 26-11-2022 15:11 IST
This isolated black hole is roaming our Milky Way galaxy
Image Credit: NASA

A black hole several times the mass of our Sun is drifting through our Milky Way galaxy. The black hole, which is the crushed remnant of a massive star that exploded as a supernova, lies about 5,000 light-years away, in the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm of our galaxy.

Earlier this year, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope provided direct evidence for a lone black hole drifting through interstellar space by a precise mass measurement of the phantom object. Though an estimated 100 million isolated black holes roam our galaxy, finding the telltale signature of one is a needle-in-haystack search for Hubble astronomers.

The measurements indicated that the black hole weighs seven solar masses and is travelling across the galaxy at 100,000 miles per hour (160,000 kilometers per hour) that's fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in less than three hours.

The Hubble Space Telescope goes hunting for these black holes by looking for distortion in starlight as the black holes drift in front of background stars. In this case, the background star momentarily brightened, as first captured by the space observatory beginning in August 2011, and then faded back to normal brightness, as the foreground black hole drifted by.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Give Feedback