AFP/NASA PHOTO: In this artist's portrayal by Aurore Simonnet of Sonoma State University, the black hole lies at the upper left and its companion star is on the right.
Amazing. Atronomers have discovered the biggest black hole orbiting a star 1.8 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, with a record-setting mass of 24 to 33 times that of our Sun. Absolutely incredible.
The massive newcomer beats the previous stellar-mass black hole discovered October 17 in the M33 galaxy that has 16 times the mass of our Sun, the US space agency said.I'll say. When I was in college, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, scientists didn't think black holes would get any larger than 8 or 9 solar masses. Stars larger than that were thought to go supernova. The discovery was made with NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory. You know, one of those science projects that fundies and republicans love to hate.
Like the much larger, supermassive black holes found at galaxy centers, stellar-mass black holes have such powerful gravity fields that not even light can escape them. Astronomers estimate their mass by measuring their gas emissions and the gravitational effect on the stars they orbit.
"We weren't expecting to find a stellar-mass black hole this massive," says Andrea Prestwich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What a gorgeous illustration, eh? I loves me some outer space.