Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (THAT) have discovered a new black hole, closest to Earth ever detected, located in a stellar system visible to the naked eye.

« Seulement » 1 000 light years away from us. It’s a stellar black hole, from the collapse of a massive star on itself, as big as at least four times the Sun.

Unlike supermassive black holes, celui-ci est « silencieux » car il « n’interagit pas violemment avec son environnement » (it does not absorb matter) : il est donc « vraiment noir » et caché dans le système stellaire « HR 6819 », précise l’ESO dans un communiqué mercredi.

The ESO team was interested in starting HR 6819 as a binary star system, which includes a variety of stars more massive and brighter than the Sun. Thanks to the spectrograph (instrument for measuring the radial speed of an object) « FEROS », located at the La Silla Observatory (Chili), one of the two stars is moving faster than the other, and orbiting in an unusual way, every forty days, around an invisible object.

By studying this trajectory, they were able to detect the presence of the black hole, and calculate the mass. « Un objet invisible avec une masse d’au moins quatre fois le Soleil ne peut être qu’un trou noir », explains astrophysicist Thomas Rivinius, lead author of the study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. « Ce système stellaire contient le trou noir le plus proche de la Terre que l’on connaît », he stresses.

« Nous avons été totalement surpris quand nous avons réalisé qu’il s’agissait du premier système stellaire visible à l’oeil nu avec un trou noir », complete Petr Hadrava, from the Prague Academy of Sciences, co-author of the study.

For now, remember the study, only two dozen black holes have been detected in our galaxy, which includes in its center a supermassive black hole.

« On connaît peu de trous noirs stellaires dans la Voie lactée, but we think there’s a lot, car ce sont des produits naturels de l’évolution des étoiles massives », comment Pierre Kervella, astronome de l’Observatoire de Paris – PSL.

HR's black hole 6819 a pu ainsi être détecté via « l’attraction gravitationnelle qu’il imprime à l’étoile », decrypts the astronomer, selon lequel cette étude est une « brique supplémentaire pour comprendre les sources d’ondes gravitationnelles », detected in 2016.

The object discovered is located at 1 000 light years (several tens of millions of billions of kilometers), soit « à peu près 200 times further than the nearest star to us (hors Soleil), Centaur Alpha ; what, at the stellar scale, n’est pas loin », analysis Pierre Kervella.


World news – FR – Discovery of a new black hole, closest to Earth ever detected

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