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Odd Behaviour of Star Reveals Lonely Black Hole Hiding in Giant Star Cluster

17 Jan 2018, 11:00 UTC
Odd Behaviour of Star Reveals Lonely Black Hole Hiding in Giant Star Cluster ESO/L. Calçada

Astronomers using ESO’s MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun — the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull. This important discovery impacts on our understanding of the formation of these star clusters, black holes, and the origins of gravitational wave events.

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