A distant star in the NGC 3201 cluster that exhibits strange behavior can call attention to a secret. A team of international astronomers believes that it is behaving that way because the star is orbiting a black holethat that has four times the mbad of the sun.
The team saw the star moving back and forth at speeds of several hundred kilometers per hour, in a cycle that repeats every 167 days. [The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]
"I was orbiting something that was completely invisible, that had a mbad of more than four times the sun, this could only be a black hole", Benjamin Giesers, lead author of the new research and astrophysicist of La University of Göttingen in Germany, said in a statement.
Unlike active black holes, the black hole in this system, if it really exists, is not swallowing matter or expelling gas. That is why it is so difficult to detect. The star is approximately 0.8 times the mbad of the sun. Due to the movements of the star around the invisible black hole, the researchers estimate that the mbad of the black hole is approximately 4.36 times the mbad of the sun.
If confirmed, this would be the first black hole that astronomers have ever encountered in a globular cluster, a group densely populated with ancient stars, when observing the gravitational pull of the black hole on another object. The discovery was discovered using the MUSE instrument of the European Southern Observatory at the Very Large Telescope in Chile.
ESO officials said in the statement that this finding will help astronomers understand how globular clusters and black holes are formed, as well as the origins of gravitational waves – waves in the space-time caused by huge gravitational interactions.
"The relationship between black holes and globular clusters is important but mysterious, its large mbades and great ages, these clusters are thought to have produced a large amount of black holes of stardust, created when the mbadive stars within them exploded and collapsed during the long life of the cluster, "ESO officials declared.
Recent radio detections and X-ray sources in globular clusters, as well as the detection of gravitational wave signals in 2016 produced by the merger of two star-mbad black holes, suggest that these relatively small black holes may be more common in globular clusters than previously thought, "they added.
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