from the you're-a-sneaky-one dept.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
Albert Einstein first published his book explaining the theory of general relativity—which postulated black holes—in 1922. One hundred years later, astronomers captured actual images of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In a recent paper, a team of astronomers describes another exciting new discovery: the first "dormant" black hole observed outside of the galaxy.
VFTS 243 is a binary system, meaning it is composed of two objects that orbit a common center of mass. The first object is a very hot, blue star with 25 times the mass of the Sun, and the second a black hole nine times more massive than the Sun. VFTS 243 is located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163,000 light-years from Earth.
The black hole in VFTS 243 is considered dormant because it is not emitting any detectable radiation. This is in stark contrast to other binary systems in which strong X-rays are detected from the black hole.
[...] The fact that the black hole in VFTS 243 system is in a circular orbit with the star is strong evidence that there was no supernova explosion, which otherwise might have kicked the black hole out of the system—or at the very least disrupted the orbit. Instead, it appears that the progenitor star collapsed directly to form the black hole sans explosion.
[...] To date, astronomers have detected nearly 100 events where binary black holes merge and produced ripples in space-time. But how these binary black hole systems form is still unknown, which is why VFTS 243 and similar yet-to-be-discovered systems are so vital to future research. Perhaps nature has a sense of humor—for black holes are the darkest objects in existence and emit no light, yet they illuminate our fundamental understanding of the universe.