A team of astronomers known as the black hole police have discovered the first dormant stellar-mass black hole outside the Milky Way. The black hole was discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
For the first time ever, a dormant stellar-mass black hole has been discovered outside of the Milky Way galaxy. And who discovered it? The black hole police. Yes, a team of astronomers who are known for exposing fake black hole discoveries called the black hole police have been accredited with this discovery. Interestingly, the galaxy where this stellar-mass black hole has been found is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way called the Large Magellanic Cloud. The satellite galaxy is a smaller companion galaxy that travels along with the host galaxy in fixed orbit.
The discovery and the discoverer are both noteworthy. The black hole police is a group of young astronomers who have gained notoriety for being skeptic about increasing black hole discoveries and spend time disproving the false claims. And after years of exposing others, the group has made its first discovery. And the discovery has made its way to the pages of history. The team has published their paper documenting the first ever dormant stellar-mass black hole outside the Milky Way in Nature Astronomy, a peer-reviewed journal.
Black hole police gets its first discovery
The black hole, named VFTS 243, is dormant according to these astronomers. A dormant black hole does not emit high levels of X-ray radiation like the active black holes, which also makes spotting them more difficult. According to an Earth Sky report, the researchers were able to find this black hole after spending countless hours going through 1,000 massive stars in the Tarantula Nebula region of the Large Magellanic Cloud.
“We identified a “needle in a haystack”. For the first time, our team got together to report on a black hole discovery, instead of rejecting one,” Tomer Shenar, the lead author on the paper said.
VFTS 243 is also a stellar-mass black hole, which means that it is formed by the gravitational collapse of a star and weighs as much as nine Suns put together. It also orbits a hot, blue star that is 25 times the Sun’s mass. Because of how rare this discovery was, the black hole police could not help but be skeptical about their own discovery.
“As a researcher who has debunked potential black holes in recent years, I was extremely skeptical regarding this discovery,” Shenar added. He was not alone in his doubts. His co-author Kareem El-Badry of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics also shared the same suspicion. He said, “When Tomer asked me to double check his findings, I had my doubts. But I could not find a plausible explanation for the data that did not involve a black hole”.
For now, it does appear that after being published in a peer reviewed journal that their discovery is indeed legitimate.