Black hole may be hiding in globular cluster

A new study shows what scientists believe to be a black hole inside a globular cluster.
By Joseph Scalise | Jan 23, 2018
A team of international astronomers believes that a far away star in the cluster NGC 3201 is acting strangely because it is a orbiting a black hole four times the mass of the sun.

Astronomers first took note of the strange star when they observed it moving back-and-forth across the sky at several hundred miles an hour. After further study of the body, they found that the unique cycle repeats once every 167 days.

"It was orbiting something that was completely invisible, which had a mass more than four times the sun this could only be a black hole," said lead author Benjamin Giesers, an astrophysicist at the University of Gttingen in Germany, in astatement.

While most black holes swallow or expel gas, the active one outlined in the study does not. In addition, estimates based on the star's orbit suggest the star is roughly 0.8 times the mass of the sun and the black hole's mass is roughly 4.36 times the mass of the sun.

If the black hole does exist -- it is simply speculation for now -- it would be the first hole on record to be found in a group of densely packed ancient stars known as a globular cluster. As a result, the finding could change the way astronomers view space and give insight into how bothglobular clusters and black holes are formed. It could also potentially shed light on the origins of gravitational waves.

"The relationship between black holes and globular clusters is an important but mysterious one," stated officials at the European Southern Observatory, according"Because of their large masses and great ages, these clusters are thought to have produced a large number of stellar-mass black holes created as massive stars within them exploded and collapsed over the long lifetime of the cluster."

This research is outlined in a recent report.


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