Scientists discover a black hole so large, it changes how we view the galaxy

An international team of scientists at the National Astronomical Observatory of China of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) has recently discovered a black hole so large, it questions what we believe about cosmic bodies in our galaxy. The mass of the newly discovered black hole is estimated to be about 70 times greater than the Sun.

The team’s lead professor, Prof. Liu Jifeng, says in a statement: “Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution.”

Why is this discovery changing everything?

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The size of the newly discovered black hole, LB-1, is so large that it questions how we assumed black holes were formed in our galaxy. Until now, scientists have assumed that, with the typical chemical composition of stars in the Milky Way, black holes were formed with the shedding of their gasses in stellar winds. However, LB-1 has so much mass that should have been “blown away.” This leads us to question all our assumptions on how black holes are formed in our galaxy.

Artist’s impression of LB-1. Source: Yu Jingchuan/Beijing Planetarium via the China Academy of Sciences/AFP

Therefore, they should not leave behind such a massive remnant. LB-1 is twice as massive as what we thought possible. Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation.

Prof. Liu Jifeng

Discovery of LB-1

LB-1 is approximately 15,000 light-years away. A light-year is defined as the distance light travels in one year, which is around 6 trillion miles. A paper on the discovery of the black hole has been published in the journal Nature.

The black hole was discovered thanks to China’s Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST). The telescope operates by searching for stars being pulled by invisible gravitational forces (from black holes). This method indirectly leads us to the location of the black hole. Previously, scientists had to rely on x-rays radiation from black holes that are consuming gasses of other stars. This old method reduced the number of black holes we could detect.

The discovery of the black hole also ties in with another recent astrophysics discovery – the detection of ripples in space-time caused by black hole collisions in distant galaxies. These ripples were detected by the America’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Italian Virgo gravitational wave detector.

This remarkable result along with the LIGO-Virgo detections of binary black hole collisions during the past four years really points towards a renaissance in our understanding of black hole astrophysics

Prof. Liu Jifeng
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Source: FOX News

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