An international team, including astronomers from Tel Aviv University, has uncovered the most massive stellar black hole found to date in a binary system.
Published in the prestigious journal Nature this week, the research was conducted by an international team including Professor Tsevi Mazeh, who is the director of the Sackler Institute of Astronomy at Tel Aviv University and holds the Oren Family Chair of Experimental Physics, and his Ph.D. student Avi Shporer.
The newly-discovered black hole is about 16 times the mass of our sun and located three million light-years away in a distant galaxy called Messier 33. The finding is unique because the black hole, named M33 X-7, is associated with an unusually large companion star (its binary pair), with a mass about 70 times the mass of our sun. The two objects move one around the other in space once every 3.5 days in an everlasting dance.
A stellar black hole is formed from the collapse of the core of a massive star at the end of its life. The collapse creates an intense gravitational force, where not even rays of light can escape its gravitational pull, rendering the phenomenon invisible. Matter transferred from the companion star into the black hole falls into the hole’s gravitational attraction and emits X-ray radiation that the astronomers have detected by using special satellites.
"Giant telescopes and satellites make it possible for us to discover in space systems that seem to come from a science-fiction film," says Prof. Mazeh. "We are able to study black holes whose existence we were able to imagine only thanks to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."
This new discovery raises all sorts of questions about how massive black holes are formed. Prof. Mazeh says that these questions illustrate the enormous scale of the universe and the smallness of the Earth within it. "I hope these discoveries will lead scientists and even human society to a degree of modesty," he noted.
The scientific community has known about black holes orbiting companion stars for 40 years. "This discovery raises doubts about theories of how black holes, like this one, are created," said Prof. Jerome Orosz from San Diego State University, the first contributor of the article. Prof. Orosz led the international teams that analyzed data collected by the Chandra X-ray satellite and the Gemini telescope in Hawaii.
Concludes Prof. Mazeh, "Astronomical measurements allow us to peek into the vastness of space and discover epic events incomparable with anything which takes place on earth."
PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection
24.01.2017 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy