The Lone Wanderer
Listen to Today's Edition
Scientists recently discovered a “rogue” black hole (BH) roaming free around the galaxy for the first time, Newsweek reported.
The astronomers said the discovery comes after an arduous decade-old study into the elusive celestial event.
The existence of wandering black holes has been debated for years mainly because they are elusive: Black holes are usually hard to spot and previous ones have only been discovered through studying the X-ray emissions given off when black holes “eat” nearby material, also known as accretion.
“Isolated BHs are extremely difficult to detect directly,” the authors explained in their study. “They emit no light of their own, and the accretion rate from the interstellar medium is generally likely to be too low to produce detectable X-ray or radio emission.”
But the team had been studying the rogue event – known as MOA-11-191/OGLE-11-0462 – since 2011.
They wrote that it was located in a crowded area toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy and about 1,580 parsecs (5,153 light-years) away from Earth. It appears to move at speed of around 28 miles per second.
Researchers hypothesized that the black hole received a tremendous cosmic “kick” from a star that was formerly its binary neighbor but later erupted in a supernova.
While the study still needs to be peer-reviewed, other researchers said this event could be the first of many.
“This difficult detection confirms the existence of an isolated stellar mass black hole for the very first time, and is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Angelo Ricarte of the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.