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New Type Of Black Hole Discovered, Millions Of Them Could Be Hiding In Milky Way

First Posted: Jun 29, 2016 06:10 AM EDT

Astronomers have recently announced the detection of a "stealth" black hole which was earlier mistaken for a distant galaxy. In addition, the discovery reportedly suggests the possibility of millions of black holes hiding in the Milky Way.

"Usually, we find black holes when they are pulling in lots of material. Before falling into the black hole this material gets very hot and emits brightly in X-rays," said Bailey Tetarenko, lead researcher from Canada's University of Alberta. "This one is so quiet that it is practically a stealth black hole".

Researchers used to previously believe that a strange source of radio waves in space was caused by a distant galaxy. It is only now, with the help of data from the Hubble Space Telescope, National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array and Chandra X-ray Observatory, that the researching scientists have been able to conclude that what was mistaken for a distant galaxy is actually a nearby binary star system that contains a black hole and a low mass star.

Interestingly, astronomers have known about the presence of the hitherto mistaken celestial body for two decades and called it VLA J2130+12. However, now with the help of all the information, the scientists have found out that the black hole located 7,200 light years away has a mass a few times bigger than that of our sun, and the clandestine object is pulling in the material of its nearby star.

This is also the first instance when a stealth black hole and its companion star have been found outside globular clusters in such a quiet state. The study was conducted for a comparatively small portion of the sky, therefore experts believe that there could be a lot of these stealth and quiet black holes present in the Milky Way, and they may be much closer to the Earth. According to NASA, the estimates run into "tens of thousands to millions" for stealth black holes in our galaxy, which is a lot more than suggested by previous studies.

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