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The uncertainty of science: In three new papers published this week astronomers have found that the announced discovery in early December of the biggest super-massive black hole ever found, 70 times the mass of the Sun, does not hold up.
In a recent study (a peer-reviewed study published Nov. 27), a team of scientists reported the discovery of the binary system LB-1, which contains a star and, according to the findings, a black hole companion 70 times the mass of our sun. This was major news, a stellar-mass black holes (black holes formed by the gravitational collapse of a star) are typically less than half that massive. But while the study, led by Jifeng Liu, of the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was exciting, it was also wrong.
Three new papers came out this week that reexamined the findings from Liu’s study, and these studies say that LB-1’s black hole isn’t actually all that massive.
The new papers find that a closer look at the data finds that it wasn’t doing what the initial researchers thought.