First time ever, NASA Hubble Space Telescope reveals this black hole secret

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has reached yet another milestone. For the first time ever, it has found out the mass and the location of a black hole in our own Milky Way Galaxy. It is also travelling at 100,000 miles an hour!

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 12:53 IST
Black Hole
In a historic first, the NASA Hubble Space Telescope has figured out the mass and the location of a black hole dwelling inside our Milky Way Galaxy. (NASA)
Black Hole
In a historic first, the NASA Hubble Space Telescope has figured out the mass and the location of a black hole dwelling inside our Milky Way Galaxy. (NASA)

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope seems to be getting better with age. How else do you explain the fact that it is revealing information that has remained secret even in today's age. The space observatory, which recently completed its 32 years in space, has reached yet another historic milestone. For the first time ever in the history of humanity's space exploration, we have been able to isolate the location and mass of a black hole inside our Milky Way Galaxy. And it gets more interesting. The observed black hole is also of a “wandering” variety, meaning that it is traveling through the galaxy. In fact, it is travelling at a humongous 100,000 miles an hour! This is a rare phenomenon and this is what made finding out the data about it possible. So, what exactly did Hubble find out and what new revelations around black holes does it provide? Read on to find out. Also read: Hubble Telescope captures giant star 32x larger than Sun, but it will die first! Check breathtaking NASA photo

Through recent research, scientists have found out that the Milky Way is filled with black holes. Despite them being invisible to us as it absorbs all light instead of emitting it, scientists have been able to identify them by observing its impact on nearby stars. When a nearby star behaves unnaturally, it is usually a sign there is a black hole nearby. However, pinpointing their location or size is difficult as the information found is purely relative. This is where this wandering black hole presented itself as a unique gift to the astronomical community.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope makes history; find out the mass and location of a black hole

Generally, black holes either gravitate and occupy the space around the center of the galaxy, or they are found in binary systems paired with another star. However, this particular black hole seemed to be moving freely across space. Even its discovery was accidental. Hubble had been observing the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm of our galaxy and NASA detected this black hole moving around 5,000 light years away. Also read: NASA Hubble Space Telescope spots Hidden Galaxy behind Milky Way Galaxy!

“Black holes roaming our galaxy are born from rare, monstrous stars (less than one-thousandth of the galaxy's stellar population) that are at least 20 times more massive than our Sun,” said NASA in a statement. “These stars explode as a supernova, and the remnant core is crushed by gravity into a black hole. Because the self-detonation is not perfectly symmetrical, the black hole may get a kick, and go careening through our galaxy like a blasted cannonball.”

While Hubble cannot “see” black holes, it collects data on them based on the effect its gravitational force has on nearby stars. However, since this black hole is moving, NASA was able to observe the same impact across a larger set of stars. The data was collected using a technique called Astrometric microlensing which can detect large celestial objects. According to the data, the estimated mass of the black hole is between 1.6 and 4.4 times that of the Sun. The research team has also estimated that it is traveling through the Milky Way galaxy at over 100,000 miles an hour.

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First Published Date: 11 Jun, 12:16 IST
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