(Mirror Daily, United States) – Researchers have noticed that one particular star within a globular star cluster has a strange trajectory as it seems to be hurled back and forth at mind-blowing speeds every 167 days.
Scientists now believe that the star may be orbiting a black star that is not observable by Earth-based instruments.
A new study estimates that the black hole has the mass of four stars. It is the first time, astronomers spot a black hole in a globular star cluster, which is considered to be the birthplace of some of the oldest stars.
The research team is confident that the recent finding could shed more light on the formation of black holes and such star clusters. It could also enable researchers to better understand gravitational wave events, which emerge when two black holes are merging.
Some Globular Star Clusters As Old as the Galaxy
Across the Milky Way, there are around 150 globular star clusters. These star formations are believed to be as old as the galaxy itself. The recently found black hole is located inside the global cluster called NGC 3201, which is twice as old as the Sun.
The cluster is located 16,300 light-years away in the direction the Vela the Sails constellation in the southern hemisphere. The cluster is 254,000 heavier than the Sun.
Scientists tracked the cluster with help from the Chile-based ESO’s Very Large Telescope and found that one particular star was acting very strangely. The team speculated that it may be orbiting something that cannot be visible from Earth, but it is four times denser than the Sun. That thing fit the description of a black hole.
Globular clusters are thought to have produced a large number of black holes but most of them are inactive and invisible. The black holes appear in the wake of supernovas when what was left of ancient stars exploded and collapsed.
Image Source: Wikimedia