Scientists Discover Black Hole Whose Companion Stars Are Visible To Naked Eye

Screengrab / European Southern Observatory (ESO) / YouTube

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Scientists discover a black hole that is the nearest one ever found.

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered a black hole that is just 1,000 light years away—the closest black hole ever found and so close that it can be seen by the unaided eye, according to a report by ARS Technica.

Called HR 6819, the black hole belongs to the triple star system. This discovery has opened scientists to the idea that black holes can be a part of such a system. Most black holes, according to the report, are quiet and hard to detect, and this new discovery also offers insight into where more may be present.

Researchers were originally looking at HR 6819 as a part of their study on double-star systems, which they had previously believed HR 6819 to be. While going over their data, though, they found evidence of a third object in the system, which was the black hole.

"If such a system happens to be in the immediate neighborhood, it is likely common in other regions of the galaxy as well," said ESO scientist and a co-author on the paper announcing the discovery, Thomas Rivinius. Rivinus suggests that there may be 2,500 more of these systems.

Other scientists believe that there are far more black holes than we have discovered, given the age of the universe and the fact that we cannot observe them directly, but only infer their existence. Hopefully, the discovery of HR 6819 will be a starting point in discovering other black holes in our solar system.

Read the full report here.

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