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Largest black hole in the Milky Way spotted 2,000 light years from us

BH3 black hole (Source: ESO/L Calçada)
BH3 black hole (Source: ESO/L Calçada)
A surprising discovery made in the data retrieved by the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission is the BH3 stellar black hole, located just 2,000 light years from Earth. No less than 33 times the size of the sun, BH3 is the largest of its kind in the Milky Way and the second one (by size) to be spotted so far.

Launched in December 2013 and expected to cease operating next year, the European Space Agency's Gaia space observatory made it to space one decade after the completion of the Hipparcos mission, which took place between 1989 and 1993. A few new similar missions are currently ongoing, the last one being the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, which launched one year ago.

Since its launch, Gaia has retrieved a large amount of data, leading to the discovery of two binary systems hosting black holes. The third one is named Gaia BH3, and what makes it special is the size of the black hole, which is the largest found in the Milky Way so far. Formed with the help of an exploding star just 2,000 light years from our planet, BH3 is located in the Aquila constellation, and its size is roughly 33 times larger than that of our sun. For reference, the reader should take into account the fact that the average size of stellar black holes found in the Milky Way so far sits at 10 times that of our sun. The data was confirmed by measurements made by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert. For more accurate readings, a lot of time is needed, since the star next to BH3 needs almost 12 years to complete a movement.

However, while BH3 is the largest stellar black hole in our galaxy, it doesn't even get near the behemothic Sagittarius A, which is the size of several million suns. However, Sagittarius A was not formed from the collapse of a dying star but from the collapse of cosmic clouds of gas and dust.

Those interested in finding out more about black holes should grab Neil deGrasse Tyson's Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, which is available for Kindle, as well as in audiobook, hardcover, and paperback formats for prices between $0 and $13.75.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 04 > Largest black hole in the Milky Way spotted 2,000 light years from us
Codrut Nistor, 2024-04-16 (Update: 2024-04-16)