Key Takeaways:

  • Astronomers found evidence of a rare, medium-sized black hole roaming the Milky Way.
  • The black hole is estimated to be Jupiter-sized but 3,000 times more massive than the Sun.
  • Scientists observed a gas cloud orbiting an invisible object, suggesting a black hole’s presence.
  • This is the third black hole discovered in our galaxy, and more might exist undetected.
  • The discovery highlights the need to search for orbiting gas clouds to find similar black holes.

Recently, astronomers have observed an invisible interstellar nomad roaming the Milky Way. More specifically, research published on the preprint server ArXiv describes how scientists at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) discovered evidence of a rare type of black hole.

According to New Scientist, if the scientists are right, this black hole the size of Jupiter is the third in our galaxy.

The team never actually saw the black hole because it’s, well, a black hole. However, using a network of telescopes in Chile known as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, they were able to observe a traveling cloud of celestial gases orbiting around something, according to

Shunya Takekawa, an astrophysicist at the NAOJ, told New Scientist, “When I checked the ALMA data for the first time, I was really excited because the observed gas showed obvious orbital motions, which strongly suggest an invisible massive object lurking.”

The team estimated that the newly-discovered black hole is roughly 3,000 times more massive than our Sun based on how that gas cloud was orbiting its central point. However, the black hole is so compact that it occupies roughly the same amount of space as Jupiter. This new black hole is 3 million times denser than the Sun because the Sun could only hold 1,000 planets the size of Jupiter.

Both the supermassive black holes at the center of the Milky Way and the common, relatively small black holes formed from collapsing stars are much better understood by scientists.

In the end, this finding raises the prospect that the Milky Way is home to a large number of additional medium-sized black holes. More and more of these peculiar and uncommon black holes might soon be discovered by other teams now that astronomers are aware of the need to search for clouds of spiraling gas

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