NewsBlack hole closest to Earth turns out to be...

Black hole closest to Earth turns out to be a 'vampire star'

Two years ago, researchers thought they had discovered a near-Earth black hole. Now they have to correct themselves.

Stuttgart – Two years ago, an international team of astronomers reported the discovery of a black hole* near the star HR 6819, about 1,000 light-years away. This would make it the closest black hole to earth – and made headlines at the time. Now the researchers have to correct themselves. (BW24* reported)

As scientists write in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics , more precise observations show what the celestial object really is instead of a black hole. Although HR 6189 is a strange star, there is nothing to be seen of a black hole. Instead, it is a so-called “vampire star”. The misinterpretation came about because the star is in an unusual, very short phase of its development.

HR 6189 turns out to be a “vampire star” eating its neighboring star

The new interpretation of the celestial object is based on two stars, one of which has snatched part of the other’s matter and is therefore also known as the “vampire star”. So the vampire star eats its neighbor star and literally sucks it dry. The title of the closest black hole to Earth thus goes back to V723 Monocerotis at a distance of 1,500 light-years.

Das Sternensystem HR 6819.


The star system HR 6819 apparently does not contain a black hole after all. It is a two star system in which one star has siphoned mass from its companion – “stellar vampirism”. (artistic representation)

Black holes have always radiated a special fascination for both researchers and laypeople. Supermassive black holes can weigh billions of solar masses and are found at the center of most galaxies. Stellar black holes, on the other hand, form when stars about 20 times the mass of our Sun collapse at the end of their lives. Researchers recently observed an isolated black hole* for the first time. Scientists are also certain that two black holes* will collide in around 10,000 years. *BW24 is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

Picture list: © ESO / L. Road

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