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LCO Scientists Observe Lone Black Hole

Feb 18, 2022

This simulation of a supermassive black hole shows how it distorts the starry background and captures light, producing a black hole silhouettes. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; background, ESA/Gaia/DPAC.

Astronomers announced the first discovery of an isolated compact object, likely to be a black hole in the Milky Way. Astrophysics theory has predicted the presence of solo black holes and ten years of observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope, confirmed by ground-based observatories, have made the identification. This discovery was announced in a pair of papers (links below), and described in this article in Nature.

Las Cumbres Observatory was part of the team that made this great discovery. Under the direction of Dr. Rachel Street, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Etienne Bachelet modeled all of the data and confirmed the exciting result.

Dr. Street is pleased that LCO was part of this research, “This is a groundbreaking find because compact objects are an important part of stellar evolution but intrinsically hard to study. Microlensing is a unique tool that allows us to find isolated black holes and explore these hidden populations for the first time.”

The discovery is reported in these two papers:

An isolated mass gap black hole or neutron star detected with astrometric microlensing.

An Isolated Stellar-Mass Black Hole Detected Through Astrometric Microlensing.