Astronomers have found an especially sneaky black hole – discovery sheds light on star death, black hole formation and gravitational waves

There is always something new and exciting happening in the field of black hole research.

Albert Einstein first published his book explaining the theory of general relativity – which postulated black holes – in 1922. One hundred years later, astronomers captured actual images of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In a recent paper, a team of astronomers describes another exciting new discovery: the first “dormant” black hole observed outside of the galaxy.

I am an astrophysicist who has studied black holes – the most dense objects in the universe – for nearly two decades. Dormant black holes are black holes that do not emit any detectable light. Thus, they are notoriously difficult to find. This new discovery is exciting because it provides insight into the formation and evolution of black holes. This information is vital for understanding gravitational waves as well as other astronomical events.

What exactly is VFTS 243?

VFTS 243 is a binary system, meaning it is composed of two objects that orbit a common center of mass. The first object is a very hot, blue star with 25 times the mass of the Sun, and the second a black hole nine times more massive than the Sun. VFTS 243 is located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163,000 light-years from Earth.

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