What would occur if, in the region of the solar system where the Earth is located, a black hole replaced the sun?
The solution can be found in systems like the recently discovered black hole-star binary system Gaia BH1, which has the nearest stellar mass to Earth yet observed and a star orbiting it at an amazing 223,000 miles per hour.
Black Hole Near Earth
The star that orbits the black hole has an orbital period of roughly half a year and is extremely comparable to the sun, despite its mass being around 10 times that of the sun. According to astronomer Kareem El-Badry of the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, this information was sent to Popular Mechanics.
Similarities to the solar system still exist due to the black hole’s companion star’s proximity, which is around 1.5 times further away from Earth than the sun.
In November, further findings on this initial, unambiguous sighting of a stellar-mass black hole in the Milky Way were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Notably, neither radiation nor matter is being consumed by this.
This non-feeding is referred to as dormant by astronomers. They are difficult to find since any light approaching them too closely is captured by a limit known as the event horizon, making them undetectable.
That means that while there are probably millions of stellar-mass black holes with masses ranging from three to ten times that of the sun, only a small fraction have been observed so far, and those are consuming matter from a companion star.
This star material becomes extremely hot as it approaches a black hole. This makes it produce potent radiation that can be utilized to find the it that is feeding.
How Scientists Found It Without Appetite?
El-Badry and his team exploited the impact the black hole has on the star it orbits to infer the existence of this dormant black hole in the absence of such emissions.
The star in Gaia BH1 was clearly showing a telltale wobble, according to data from the Gaia space telescope, which has been building a 3D picture of the Milky Way since 2013.
El-Badry explains that looking for wobbling stars is one thing you can do with the data. He says that Gaia is precisely monitoring the positions of all the stars in the sky relative to a set background at different periods. The star in this system is swaying more than you might anticipate for a star with a typical companion, according to what we know about it.
The astronomers conducted more observations using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph instrument on the Gemini North Telescope. They concluded that the gravitational impact of a large compact object caused the wobble.