Closest Black Hole is Only 1,000 Light-Years Away


Astronomers Discover the Closest Known Black Hole

by Megan Gannon/

The pair of stars in a system called HR 6819 is so close to us that on a clear night in the Southern Hemisphere, a person might be able to spot them without a telescope. What that stargazer wouldn’t see, though, is the black hole hiding right there in the constellation Telescopium. At just 1,000 light-years away, it is the closest black hole to Earth ever discovered, and it could help scientists find the rest of the Milky Way’s missing black holes.

Dietrich Baade, an emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Germany and co-author of the study in Astronomy & Astrophysics, says the team never set out to find a black hole. They thought the HR 6819 system was a simple binary, made up of two visible stars orbiting each other. But their observations with the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESOs La Silla Observatory in Chile revealed something stranger: One of the stars orbited an unknown object every 40 days, while the second star revolved around this inner pair.

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  1. The Sun is 93 million miles away from Earth. If you scale down that distance to equal one inch, the closest black hole to the solar system would be a thousand miles. That’s an enormous distance.

    • Edward, i don’t like your metrical system, sorry 😀.
      One astronomical unit is approximately 150 million kilometers. Thus, light travels from the Sun to the Earth in about 8 minutes 20 seconds). 150mln kms/300k=500 sec. And they suggest us 1000 years 😀

    • While I agree, the metric system is more logical, especially for scientific calculation, one of the fortuitous things about the Imperial system is the unique relationship between the distance to the Sun(93,000,000 miles) and the speed of light(186,000 miles per second), the D/R=T division yielding a very nice whole number quotient of 500 seconds, but have it your way; the nearest blackhole to Earth is approximately 9.6 quadrillion kilometers distant. Have a nice day!

    • Thank you, Sir!
      In the Tsar times we had crazy measuring system, too. A devil could break his nose in this system)

  2. It means that the light will travel in vacuum with speed 299 792 458 m/s during 1000 years – too long distance to that black hole. No danger. But interesting for research.

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