Astronomers estimate that there are 100 million lonely black holes drifting through our galaxy. Despite such a huge number, they’re virtually invisible and extremely difficult to detect.
But now, for the first time in history, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has managed to help scientists to identify one of these lonely wanderers. They used Hubble’s data to identify and even measure the mass of the black hole wandering through our galaxy.
NASA explains that this newly detected wandering black hole is about 5,000 light-years away from us, in the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm of our galaxy. Its discovery is groundbreaking for several reasons. First, it allows astronomers “to estimate that the nearest isolated stellar-mass black hole to Earth might be as close as 80 light-years away,” as NASA explains. Also, it was the first time astronomers used Hubble for a project like this.
You may wonder why it has never happened before considering that Hubble has provided us with so many important and historic photos. Well, since it operates by collecting the light emitted from celestial objects, it can’t photograph a wayward black hole. It doesn’t emit any light. Its gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light. However, it warps space which then deflects and amplifies starlight from anything that momentarily lines up exactly behind it. Hubble used the light of a star right behind the black hole to detect its position and mass.
According to NASA, this black hole weighs seven solar masses and it’s wandering through space at the whopping 100,000 mph.
NASA released an illustration that shows an artistic representation of the lonely black hole wandering through the Milky Way. I couldn’t stop staring at it, so I’m sharing it here with you.
Make sure to read more about this on NASA’s website. Ad worry not – there’s a lot of space between us and this roaming black hole.
[via Digital Trends ]