According to estimates, the black hole has at least 9 times the mass of the Sun and orbits a blue star weighing 25 times more than that of our star king.
An international team of experts recently published a study in the journal Nature Astronomy in which reveal to have found an inactive stellar mass black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy close to the Milky Way.
The discovery was made after six years of observations obtained with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO, for its acronym in English).
Researchers estimate that this black hole, named VFTS-243, is at least nine times the mass of the Sun and orbits a hot, blue star weighing 25 times the mass of the sun.
Tomer Shenar, from the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and lead author of the study, assures that his team identified “a needle in a haystack”, since the star that gave rise to this black hole disappeared without any sign of a powerful explosion and does not emit high levels of X-ray radiation, making it the first “dormant” stellar-mass black hole unambiguously detected outside the Milky Way.
“It is incredible that we hardly know about inactive black holes, considering how common astronomers believe they are”, explains Pablo Marchant, co-author of the study.
The most logical explanation for this lack of findings is that inactive black holes are particularly difficult to detect, since they do not interact much with their environment.
Julia Bodensteiner, an ESO researcher and also a co-author of the study, says she was excited when she heard about VFTS 243 after “more than two years looking for this type of binary black hole system”.
Bodensteiner concludes that, in his opinion, this is “the most convincing [dormant black hole] candidate reported to date”.