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Scientists have discovered the closest ever black hole to planet Earth

Scientists have discovered a black hole and it’s the closest one to Earth we’ve ever found.

About 1,000 light-years from us, the black hole has a mass of more than four times the size of our sun, and the system its in can even be seen with the naked eye.

Black Hole close to Earth

Photo: NASA/ESA/STSCI

Scientists have found the closest-ever black hole to Earth, a mere 1,000 light-years away, in a system that can be observed with the naked eye.

So let’s delve into this black hole a little more. It’s located in a three-bodied system dubbed HR 6819. The system is also home to two bright stars which can be observed as a single light – that is, if you happen to be a skywatcher in the Southern Hemisphere.

Anyway, back to the black hole. Previously, the closest black hole we knew of was V616 Monocerotis. This new one? It’s three times closer to Earth and its system can be spotted without a telescope.

On Wednesday, a study from the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics described that the previously unseen object suggests that there is an “existence of an entire population of quiet black holes”. Quiet black holes are darker than loud black holes, making them trickier to detect, which is why there could be a hell of a lot more out there.

This one wasn’t emitting any light and was consequently a surprise find by Astronomer Thomas Rivinius, who works at the European Southern Observatory. “We were looking for something quite different, expecting only a normal binary star system” Rivinius explained to VICE.

One thing is certain. This finding is sure to have astronauts expecting to uncover more quiet black holes in the future.

Up next, another surprising discovery, the potential benefits of building moon bases out of astronaut pee.

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May 7, 2020