JUN 25, 2020 11:44 AM PDT

Did Scientists Just Discover the Smallest Black Hole Known to Man?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

An array of antennas in the US and Italy, known as the International LIGO-Virgo Collaboration, received some unusual readings in August last year. Scientists are now debating whether the readings indicate the smallest black hole known to man or the heaviest neutron star. 

On August 14th, 2019, scientists received readings of a gravitational wave that indicated an unusual collision between two seemingly mismatched objects. While the larger one was indisputably a black hole, at around 23 times the mass of the sun, the other object was unknown, at 2.6 times the mass of the sun.

While black holes less than five times the mass of the sun have never been detected, researchers assume that neutron stars can not exceed 2.5 times the solar mass. Objects between 2.5 and 5 times the mass of the sun thus perplex scientists, as they have never been detected before.

Black holes are thought to form when any amount of mass is compressed tightly enough to collapse into a singularity. While black holes could, in theory, be lighter than the mass of five suns, until now, no examples have been found. 

Meanwhile, aside from black holes, neutron stars are the densest known celestial objects. Like black holes, they are also left after older stars' supernova explosions. Until now, however, the largest neutron star detected was just 2.14 times the sun's mass. 

While preliminary explanations say that dense, active cores of hot galaxies may be able to generate lopsided pairs of celestial objects, scientists say that it is difficult to be sure about what was observed. 

"What we know for sure and so far is that the universe is firmly telling us that we are still missing most of the story on the formation and evolution of compact objects," says Mario Spera, a Virgo researcher based Northwestern University. 


Sources: Live Science, Engadget, Space

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
MAR 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
How Much Do You Know About the Solar System?
MAR 24, 2020
How Much Do You Know About the Solar System?
Our solar system is only one out of hundreds of stellar systems residing in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s comprised o ...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. Bu ...
APR 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
These Incredible Concepts Could Get Astronauts to Mars Sooner
APR 05, 2020
These Incredible Concepts Could Get Astronauts to Mars Sooner
The idea of putting humans on Mars for first-time exploration isn’t too far-fetched. Space agencies and large comm ...
APR 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Did This Interstellar Comet Reveal Vital Clues About its Origins?
APR 21, 2020
Did This Interstellar Comet Reveal Vital Clues About its Origins?
Oumuamua received tons of attention from astronomers once it was confirmed to be an interstellar object of unknown origi ...
MAY 11, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Hear What Astronauts Think About SpaceX's Upcoming Crewed Launch
MAY 11, 2020
Hear What Astronauts Think About SpaceX's Upcoming Crewed Launch
On Wednesday, May 27th, NASA will entrust commercial space company SpaceX with the coveted task of flying astronauts to ...
JUN 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why SpaceX's Demo-2 Launch This Past Weekend Was So Significant
JUN 01, 2020
Why SpaceX's Demo-2 Launch This Past Weekend Was So Significant
If you somehow managed to miss the exciting news this past weekend, NASA and SpaceX set an important precedent in Americ ...
Loading Comments...