The closest black hole: 1,000 light years away?


Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers now think they have detected evidence of a stellar-mass black hole only a thousand light years away and orbiting a star system that is visible to the naked eye.

Thomas Rivinius, an astronomer with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and his colleagues studied the unusual star system HR 6819 in this way using a 2.2-meter telescope in Chile, operated by ESO and the Max Planck Society. They thought it was a binary system, but there was an extra wobble in the periodic light shifts of one of the stars that indicated something else was asserting its presence. It turned out to be a triple system, with one star in a fast 40-day orbit with an unseen companion and another star on a more distant, slow-moving trajectory, they write today in Astronomy & Astrophysics. The invisible companion’s mass was large enough—four times the mass of the Sun—that, if it was a star, “we would have seen it,” Rivinius says.

Though there are a lot of uncertainties, this discovery is reasonable, and expected. In the coming years astronomers will surely find more such stellar-mass black holes, with some even closer to Earth.

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One comment

  • Max

    Immediately I begin thinking of the possibilities. That future star systems like this might be similar to the fictional firefly solar system with five stars, several brown dwarfs, and over 70 planets.
    https://i.stack.imgur.com/qV57C.jpg

    With the exception in this case of the suns orbiting a black hole which makes it even more interesting.

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