A team of scientists led by China have discovered the biggest stellar-mass black hole, which is said to be the equivalent mass of 70 suns.
Named LB-1, the black hole was discovered 13,800 light-years from Earth, slowly devouring gas from a nearby star. While 13,800 light-years might sound like plenty of distance from Earth, it’s close considering the estimated 105,700 light-year diameter of our planet’s galaxy.
In a press release published on Wednesday by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Liu Jifeng, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatory of China and lead researcher for the discovery, said “Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” adding to the discovery’s significance. Theorists will now have to come up with an explanation for the black hole, which is said to be twice as big as what scientists thought possible.
The black hole was discovered consuming gas from a nearby star, creating strong X-ray emissions that make it easier to detect from Earth. Liu said “it is like a ‘little emperor’ of a black hole in our cosmic backyard,” relating it to the contemporary term in China used to describe overly protected and spoiled kids with no siblings.
Liu and his team made the finding with China’s Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST). Following the initial discovery, two of the world’s largest optical telescopes in Spain and the US recorded the physical parameters.
In April, the first-ever image of a black hole was released to the public, spurring excitement and a touch of humor from the internet’s meme lovers.
Black hole memes for the win. Image via @电竞GO/Weibo
Our Milky Way is estimated to contain 100 million stellar black holes, according to the CAS press release.
[Cover image via Pixabay]