(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astronomers has confirmed that a possible microlensing event observed in 2011 was associated with the presence of a black hole freely moving in interstellar space – marking the first time an object of its kind has been detected in the history of science.
Scientists have long believed that there are many free-moving black holes in interstellar space, but so far it has not been possible to reliably detect any such black hole. This is due to the fact that black holes themselves do not emit light, so their presence must be detected by indirect methods.
One such method is to estimate how much light coming from a distant star is distorted by a massive black hole moving in the foreground.
Such distortions of light are, although measurable, but rather weak, but in 2011, scientists were lucky. Then two groups of scientists discovered a star whose brightness increased for no apparent reason. Intrigued, scientists in this new work began to analyze data collected with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Over the course of 6 years, they measured changes in the intensity of starlight, in the hope that these changes were due to the lensing of light by a black hole. Then another curious fact was discovered – the position of the star in the sky changed.
The researchers suggested that these changes could only be associated with an invisible moving object that attracted the passing light to itself, changing its trajectory – a black hole traveling in interstellar space.
Researchers continued to study this star and its light, and were eventually able to show that the gravitational lens does not emit its own light and that the lensing is not a short-lived event, but a continuous one.Together, these signs led to the conclusion that the mysterious moving object, due to which the lensing of starlight occurs, is a black hole.
The authors also estimated the mass and speed of the freely moving black hole they discovered. According to calculations, the mass of the object was seven solar masses, and the speed of movement was about 45 kilometers per second.
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