Discover a black hole hidden in a star cluster: This is the first time that a black hole has been discovered outside the Milky Way through the effects of its gravitational field on a star and opens up new horizons. To find out thanks to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (Vlt – Eso), was an international group led by Sarah Saraceno of Liverpool John Moores University, in which the Palermo Astrophysical Observatory of the National Institute of Astrophysics was also involved. (INAF), whose findings are published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“Somewhat like Sherlock Holmes chasing a bug-hunting criminal, we observed every star in this cluster using a magnifying glass to look for evidence of black holes without seeing them directly,” Sarasino explained. Criminal’: a black hole 11 times the mass of the Sun whose presence within NGC 1850 alters the orbit of a nearby large star. Defining a black hole is a very difficult task, only in recent years has it been possible to do so with certainty by learning about the X-ray emissions that occur at certain stages or through the gravitational waves generated when black holes merge with each other or include a neutron star. The new method developed by the Sa Saracino team now opens up important new possibilities for observing black holes: “This is just one of the ‘wanted criminals’, but when you have someone you’re on your way to discovering many others.”
Recognizing the effects of black holes on the orbit of nearby stars is made possible by data collected in about two years by the Muse (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) instrument installed on the Vlt telescope in the Chilean Atacama Desert. “Moses – commented Sebastian Kaman, of the Liverpool Institute of Astrophysics and one of the study’s authors – allowed us to observe very crowded regions, such as the interiors of star clusters and analyze the light of every star in the vicinity. From here we got information on thousands of stars in one fell swoop, at least 10 times more than we can get from any other machine.”
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