No black hole found in ‘nearest black hole to Earth’ system

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2020, a team of researchers from the European Southern Observatory reported the closest black hole to Earth, said to be only 1,000 light-years away from our planet, in the HR 6819 system.

But the results of this scientific work have been questioned by other researchers. , including an international team led by scientists from KU Leuven, Belgium.

In a new study, both of these scientific groups have teamed up and found that in fact there is no black hole in the HR 6819 system, but instead there are two stars in this exotic system, one of which is a “vampire” and sucks out the matter of another star.

The original study of the HR 6819 system attracted a lot of attention from both the public and the scientific community.

Thomas Rivinius, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory based in Chile and lead author of the new work, was convinced with his co-authors that the best explanation for the data they had collected with the 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope was that the source HR 6819 was a triple system in which one star revolves around the black hole with a period of 40 days, and the second star lies in a wider orbit.

However, a later published study by a group led by Julia Bodensteiner, then a doctoral student at the KU Leuven, offered a different explanation for the same data, according to which the HR 6819 system was a system of two stars orbiting with a period of 40 days, in which there is no black hole at all.

This alternative scenario demanded that one of the stars be “stripped”, that is, at one time was deprived of a significant proportion of its matter, which was pulled over by another star.

“We could no longer clarify anything from the available data, so together with our two teams we initiated new observations using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) instruments of the European Southern Observatory,” said Abigail Frost (Abigail Frost, lead author of the new study.

As a result of studying the data obtained, both teams agreed that there is no black hole in the HR 6819 system, as well as a companion star lying in a wide orbit, while the two stars in the system move relative to each other in a very close orbit, and one of these stars has relatively recently absorbed a significant part of the atmosphere of another star.

Such a stage in the evolution of the system, including the “vampire star”, is very short, and therefore is of great interest for further study, the authors noted.


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