Star and black hole spotted in tight orbital dance

Star, black hole spotted in tight orbital dance

With the help of the Australia Telescope Compact Array, astronomers have discovered a star orbiting a black hole at merely 2½ times the distance between the Earth and Moon. Astronomers have limited information about black holes and the way they function. Many questions have still remained unanswered regarding black holes.

While the star is still at a distance of one million kilometers for the black hole, it is very close in astronomical terms. No star ever before has been discovered so close to a black hole.

Astronomers say the star system is nearly 14,000 light years away from Earth, and most likely the white dwarf and the black hole are locked in a tight orbital dance.

Lead study author Arash Bahramian, from Canada's University of Alberta, said, "This white dwarf is so close to the black hole that material is being pulled away from the star and dumped onto a disk of matter around the black hole before [that matter] falls in."

They also estimated that the star dubbed X9 is orbiting the black hole every 28 minutes at a speed of 12 million kilometers per hour.

Current gravitational wave detectors that are being operated by LIGO scientists couldn't pick up emissions from the system. However, space-based telescopes expected to be launched in the 2030s will likely be able to detect them.