There is no 'close black hole' on Earth

There is no ‘close black hole’ on Earth

In May 2020, astronomer Thomas Rivinius and his ESO colleagues announced Finding the black hole closest to Earth1120 light years away.

As soon as it was published, the results of this study were refuted by astrophysicists from KU Leuven in Belgium who analyzed the same data obtained from the MPG / ESO telescope located in Chile.

According to astronomer Marie-Lou Gentron-Marzolois, a researcher at ESO and the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics in Spain, this is about interpreting data.

They found that the possible interpretation of the signal they were seeing was a black holeSays the analyst. The other group came up with another explanation. We were playing in the range of explaining the data available at the time.

In fact, researcher Julia Bottenstein and her colleagues at KU Leuven gave different interpretations based on the same data. According to them, HR 6819 could be a two-star system without a black hole. However, in this situation, there must be one of the stars RemovedI.e. at one point it lost its mass to the other star.

Wide-field view of the sky in the telescope galaxy occupied by HR 6819, three systems with two stars and a black hole.

Wide-field view of the region of the sky occupied by HR 6819 in the telescope galaxy.

Photo: ESO / Digitized Sky Survey / Davide De Martin


  • A black hole is a celestial body that has a very small mass. The diameter of the sun is a few kilometers or so as the earth is compressed at the head of a pin.
  • The intensity of its gravitational field prevents any material or radiation from escaping.
  • Star black holes, the most common, form some massive stars that explode in supernovae during a gravitational collapse at the end of their lives. They weigh 10 to 20 times more than the Sun.
  • Intermediate black holes are 100 and 10,000 times heavier than the Sun.
  • Supermassive black holes are found in the center of galaxies and vary in mass from a million to a billion times that of the Sun.

Solve the mystery

Rarely, did two research teams decide to work together to unravel the mystery. To do this, they have submitted a joint application for monitoring with the Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and ESO’s Largest Telescope MUSE instrument.

Both teams have teamed up, which in my opinion is truly incredible. […] This is a great example of collaboration, which unfortunately is not always the case in science. They asked for time together to obtain new, more accurate data, which allowed them to determine which of the two hypotheses was correct.

A quote Researcher at the Mary-Lou Gentron-Marzolois ESO and Astronomical Institute of Andalusia, Spain

In a joint article published inAstronomy & AstrophysicsTo (New window)To (In English), both teams explain that there are really no black holes in the HR 6819 system. Rather, it is said to be the vampire system of two stars at a rare and medieval stage of its evolution.

They believe that one of the stars observed this binary structure for some time after it absorbed the atmosphere from its mate. Star Vampire.

It is very difficult to observe such a post-contact phase because it is so short.Abigail Frost, a researcher at KU Leuven, says in a statement.

This excites our findings for HR 6819, as it presents the perfect candidate for studying how vampires affect the evolution of massive stars, and the formation of associated phenomena, including gravitational waves and violent star eruptions.

A quote Abigail Frost, researcher at KU Leuven

The groups were able to integrate their resources and knowledge and discover the true nature of the organization.

This data became the last part of the puzzle and allowed us to conclude that HR 6819 was a black hole-free binary system.Says Abigail Frost.

The newly formed joint team now wants to monitor the HR 6819 very closely using VLTI’s GRAVITY instrument, which connects the light of four telescopes simultaneously at different wavelengths. She wants to follow the method at the right time, To better understand its evolution, to control its properties and to use this knowledge to learn more about other binary systems.

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