Far Side of the Milky Way –“Star Eight Times Size of Sun Orbiting a Colossal Black Hole”

Black Hole


A new gargantua, a black hole known as LB-1, has been discovered lurking at the far side of the Milky Way with a mass that is around 70 times larger than our sun with an orbiting blue monster, a star eight times the size of the sun.

In a new study, published in the journal Nature on Nov. 27, a research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences detected the object with the Large sky Area Multi-Object fibre Spectroscopic Telescope (Lamost), based at Xinglong Observatory in China.

On March 2, 2019, we reported in “The Invisible Galaxy” that astronomers discovered a dozen black holes gathered around Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, supporting a decades-old prediction. After conducting a cosmic inventory to calculate and categorize stellar-remnant black holes, the astronomers from the University of California concluded that there are probably tens of millions of the enigmatic, dark objects in the Milky Way – far more than expected.

“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” said Liu Jifeng, astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of China and first author of the study, in a press release. “LB-1 is twice as massive as what we thought possible. Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation.”

An even even more astounding discovery was reported in 2018 in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, where
researchers from Yale, the University of Washington, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, and University College London predict that galaxies with a mass similar to the Milky Way should host several supermassive black holes.

The team used a new, state-of-the-art cosmological simulation, Romulus, to predict the dynamics of SMBHs within galaxies with better accuracy than previous simulation programs, estimating that a close approach of one of these wanderers that is able to affect our solar system should occur every 100 billion years or so, or nearly 10 times the age of the universe.”

However, a few weeks later UC Berkeley graduate student astronomer Kareem El-Badry knows that all too well thought the blockbuster discovery was just too good to be true when, on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, Chinese astronomers reported such a system with a black hole that was astoundingly large:70 times the mass of our sun. “I was suspicious from the beginning,” El-Badry says. “We know of 20 to 30 black holes in binaries, and they are all half as massive, or less than 70 solar masses. It just made me want to read the paper carefully and try to understand what (the researchers) did.”

The Daily Galaxy–Great Discoveries Channel, Todd Small via National Astronomical Observatory of China

Image credit: with thanks to WGBH