The black hole may be larger than expected


A recent study found that the first black hole discovered is much larger than scientists first thought.

Black holes are extremely massive space objects whose gravity is so powerful that not even light escapes. The black hole, Cygnus X-1, was discovered in 1964. It is well known for being the subject of a friendly bet between two famous scientists.

The researchers found that the new observations of Cygnus X-1 showed that it is 21 times the mass of our sun. That’s about 50 percent more massive than scientists had believed.

While it remains one of the closest known black holes, scientists found that it is further away than previous estimates suggested. It is 7,200 light years distant. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year.

Some black holes, like the one in the center of the Milky Way, are extremely large. These are called “supermassive” black holes. They can be millions of times more massive than the sun. The smallest black holes are called “stellar mass” black holes. They have the mass of a single star.

Cygnus X-1 is the largest known stellar mass black hole in the Milky Way. It is one of the most powerful X-rays. sources viewed from Earth, said James Miller-Jones of Curtin University and the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia. Miller-Jones led the study that appeared in the publication Sciences.

Cygnus X-1 spins so fast that it approaches the highest rate predicted by physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, Miller-Jones added.

The black hole brings in material that comes from the surface of the star it orbits. This star is a “blue supergiant,” a very large star approximately 40 times the mass of our sun.

Cygnus X-1 began to exist 4 million to 5 million years ago as a star up to 75 times more massive than the sun. But then it collapsed into a black hole a few tens of thousands of years ago.

The research included data from the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescope. It is made up of 10 observation stations in the United States.

After Cygnus X-1 was first identified as a possible black hole, a friendly bet was made between two physicists, Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne. Hawking bet against the object being a black hole, while Thorne bet it was. Hawking eventually admitted that the evidence suggested that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole.

Miller-Jones, the leader of the recent study, said: “In fact, I had no bets based on these findings.”

I am John Russell.

Will Dunham reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it to learn English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. _____________________________________________________________

Words in this story

bet – n. an arrangement in which people try to guess what will happen and the person who guesses wrong has to give something (like money) to the person who guesses correctly; a bet

source – n. the place where something starts

bet – n. an arrangement in which people try to guess what will happen and the person who guesses wrong has to give something (like money) to the person who guesses correctly; a bet

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