Astronomers have identified what may be the closest black holes to Earth, which are located at a distance of about 150 light-years from our planet.
The discovery was made through an international study supervised by Stefano Torniamenti, from the University of Padua, in Italy, and published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in the United Kingdom.
The research was based on analyzing the movements of young stars located in the Hyades star cluster, in the constellation Taurus.
“This discovery came by comparing data obtained by the European Gaia mission in recent years with simulations to describe the dynamics of this star cluster. The models did not find a solution, but given the presence of two or three black holes, the results are very good.” “It was acquired near the Gaia data,” Torniamenti told ANSA.
The Hyades group, known since ancient times, and which takes its name from the daughters of the nymphs of the giant Atlas, who were condemned to carry the weight of the sky on their shoulders, consists of about 300 bright stars very close together.
The positions and movements of these stars were measured with great precision by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission and were created with the aim of creating the most detailed 3D map of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
The movements of the stars within the cluster appear to be disrupted by other unseen objects, and the researchers’ hypothesis is that these changes result from the presence of two or perhaps three stellar black holes, with a mass of about 10 times the mass of the Sun.
“These would be the closest black holes to us. The closest black hole we know so far is Gaia BH1, which is 10 times farther away from us.” [1,6 mil anos-luz]“, concluded Torniamenti.
Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe, and generally form when massive stars run out of fuel for the nuclear fusion process, causing matter to collapse inward, due to gravity.
This process generates a point in space-time where the density is infinite and not even light can escape. A black hole with a mass of 15 times the mass of the Sun, for example, would be only 90 kilometers in diameter. In other words, that’s equivalent to the pressure of 15 suns in the space between São Paulo and Campinas.
The universe also contains so-called supermassive black holes, which typically inhabit the centers of galaxies and have masses billions of times greater than the mass of the Sun, but the process of their formation remains a mystery.
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