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Business News/ Science / BH3: Astronomers discover Milky Way’s largest stellar black hole also second-closest to Earth; all you need to know
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BH3: Astronomers discover Milky Way’s largest stellar black hole also second-closest to Earth; all you need to know

BH3 black hole is the largest stellar black hole recently discovered in the Milky Way galaxy which is 2000 light years away from the Earth. Here's all you need to know about the new discovery.

BH3 black hole in Milky Way galaxy has a mass 33 times more than that of the Sun. (AFP)Premium
BH3 black hole in Milky Way galaxy has a mass 33 times more than that of the Sun. (AFP)

Astronomers have discovered a stellar black hole in the Milky Way galaxy, named BH3. The black hole has a mass 33 times that of the Sun and was formed from the collapse of an exploding star. It is located 2,000 light years away from Earth in the Aquila constellation, making it the second nearest black hole discovered.

The discovery has surprised the astronomers.

Pasquale Panuzzo, an astronomer from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Observatoire de Paris - PSL, France, expressed astonishment at the discovery and said it's a complete surprise. “The most massive stellar origin black hole in our galaxy and the second nearest discovered so far," he said. 

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When a star with over eight times the mass of the Sun exhausts its fuel, it undergoes a supernova explosion, collapsing its core to create a stellar black hole.

The BH3 black hole has a mass 33 times more than that of the Sun, as per figures suggested by the European Space Agency's Gaia mission and observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. 

The discovery of the BH3 blackhole happened while the European Space Agency continued observing a companion star orbiting the black hole. The companion star displayed a noticeable wobble, attributed to the strong gravitational pull of the black hole.

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The mass of BH3 is akin to black holes detected via gravitational waves in faraway galaxies, forging a connection between stellar black holes in the Milky Way and past gravitational wave detections.  “We have only seen black holes of this mass with gravitational waves in faraway galaxies," said Dr Pasquale Panuzzo. 

The astronomer said, “This makes the link between the stellar black holes we see in our galaxy and those gravitational wave discoveries."

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Detecting stellar black holes poses a formidable challenge despite their considerable mass and gravitational impact. This difficulty arises from the absence of companion stars orbiting many black holes. However, in the discovery of the BH3 black hole, the presence of a companion star yielded valuable insights, indicating that BH3 likely formed long before its companion star.

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Dr. Panuzzo said, “As soon as this comes out, people will rush to observe it...That will tell us about the wind that comes from stars like the one orbiting the black hole, and also about the physics of the black hole and how matter falls into it." 

Soon after the discovery of BH3 black hole, researchers rushed to release its details to enable astronomers worldwide to begin their research as soon as possible.

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Published: 17 Apr 2024, 10:38 AM IST
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