Black holes are found throughout our universe. Astronomers discovered two black holes that are close to Earth, raising eyebrows. While discovering black holes near Earth isn’t unusual, these two holes are much further from their stars than expected.
This has presented some questions for astronomers because it differs from how these binary systems are usually set up. Normally, when a black hole and a star share a system, they are known as binary systems, and the black hole usually eats away at the star. This star-eating is what makes black holes easy to detect, since they emit high energy readings. Black holes such as those found closer to Earth than their star, are called “dark” because they don’t produce high-energy bursts. This makes it more difficult to find them and thus harder to detect. Astronomers also believe that these black holes are different from regular binary black hole formations because they’re so far away from the star.
So, what is the secret to black holes such as these two newer ones found near Earth? And how do we detect them more easily? To understand how black holes are formed in the universe, we will need to adjust our existing understandings and models.
These latest discoveries were fueled by data captured by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia spacecraft. The spacecraft is continuing to gather additional data, and the hope is that more “dark” black holes will be discovered within that data, possibly even more black holes close to Earth.
A paper detailing the findings on these two black holes was featured in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society last month. Hopefully, as researchers look into them more, we’ll uncover how these black holes in wider systems formed and other markers that set them apart from regular binary black holes.
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