The black hole is believed to be the winner of the cosmic “hide-and-seek competition,” foreign media CNET reported. Einstein predicted their existence in 1916, but astronomers took more than 100 years to take the first pictures of the black hole. They are elusive because they devour light and thus avoid detection. Even so, astronomers can still detect signs of black holes in the universe by studying different forms of radiation, such as X-rays. So far, this has worked – by looking for these signs, they have discovered a large number of black holes.
But a new method of detection, pioneered by researchers at Ohio State University, suggests that a new class of tiny black holes may not have been discovered.
The findings, published in the November 1 issue of Science, use data from Earth’s telescope and Gaia satellite, detailing the discovery of a black hole orbiting the giant star 2MASS J05215658 and 4359220 (J05215658). The team suspects it could be a whole new type of black hole.
“We’re showing this innuendo, and we haven’t really explored the opportunity to find black holes,” Todd Thompson, an astronomer at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “
Often, systems like this (black holes orbit ingress stars) are easy to detect because the sheer gravity of black holes attracts matter from stars and illuminates them with radiation. Astronomers can detect this from Earth. However, if the black hole is too small, it may not interact with the star in this way and remain invisible. This is the case with J05215658.
The team believes the new black hole could be 3.3 times the mass of the sun, making it the smallest black hole ever discovered. Another possibility is that the mysterious object could be a very large neutron star. When stars die, depending on their mass, there are two forms of star death: large stars collapse into black holes, and small stars may become neutron stars. Neutron stars are small but extremely dense.
To solve the mystery, astronomers will need to discover objects of similar size lurking in the universe and determine what they are. As astronomers become more adept at cosmic hide-and-seek, finding more black holes of different sizes, the mysteries of their formation and evolution will be solved.