A ghostly black hole may have been discovered by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley

a University of California at Berkeley The research team led by graduate student Casey Lamm and associate professor of astronomy Jessica Law may have discovered the first “marine-floating” black hole, science daily mentioned.

According to the director, they estimated that this invisible object, OB110462, is between 1.6 and 4.4 times the mass of the Sun and 2,280 to 6260 light-years away. Currently, the researchers say it could also be a neutron star, or a star “the size of a city.” Born when huge, stars collapse and die. Regardless of whether it’s a black hole or a neutron star, Science Daily reports that the mysterious object is the first “stellar ghost” ever discovered floating in space without a companion star.

“This is the first floating black hole or neutron star to be detected using a gravitational microlensing,” Lu told the outlet. Lu has been searching for free-floating black holes since 2008, and has been observing OB110462 since 2020. “Using a fine lens, we can examine and weigh these small, compact objects. I think we’ve opened a new window on these dark objects that can’t be seen any other way.” Although black holes are usually invisible, researchers can use a micro-gravitational lensing to see how they distort and distort light from distant stars with their strong gravitational field.

according to Department of Astronomy at the University of California, BerkeleyBlack holes are “one of the most unusual phenomena in astrophysics.” Their website says there are an estimated 100 million stellar black holes in the Milky Way, and Science Daily reports that the UC Berkeley team now estimates there are 200 million black holes. The outlet says that determining the total number will help astronomers better understand how stars die — and potentially shed more light on the evolution of our galaxy.

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For now, Lu’s team says it’s not possible to determine whether OB110462 is a black hole or a neutron star, but they hope to collect more data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and conduct more detailed analyzes later.


“As much as we’d like to say it’s a black hole definitively, we have to report all permissible solutions,” Lu told Science Daily. “This includes both low-mass black holes and possibly even a neutron star.”

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