Scientists say the star system previously thought to contain the closest black hole to Earth does not actually have a black hole.In 2020, a team of astronomers with the help of the Southern European Observatory (ESO) discovered the closest black hole to Earth in HR 6819, just 1,000 light-years away. But some other scientists doubted that the findings were correct.
Now, as it turns out, critics are right. In a new study published March 2 in an article in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, an international research team led by Abigail Frost of KU Leuven Catholic University Belgium denies existence of black hole in HR 6819 star system. That one star orbits close to a black hole and another star in a wider orbit. But a 2020 study by Julia Bodensteiner, another current ESO colleague, found that the system could only have two stars if one of them were at a distance from the center of mass and the other star pointed toward the other. Kill yourself. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as "stellar vampirism".
The three researchers formed a team to study HR 6819 more closely. "The scenarios we were looking at were relatively clear, very different, and easily identifiable with the right tools," Rivinius said. "We first agreed that there should be two light sources in the system, so the question was whether they orbit at close distances, like in the case of a discharged star, or as far away as in the case of a black hole."
While Rivinius' initial research was based on observations collected by a relatively small telescope, the new team turned to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Very Large Interferometer (VLTI) for their research. Two powerful tools based in the Atacama Desert, Chile that can produce more accurate scientific data than previously used tools. With stronger observations, the situation in the HR 6819 system was clear. There are only two stars in close orbit, and the system contains no black holes.
But the absence of a black hole is not disappointing. "Our best interpretation so far is that we saw this binary system a moment after one of the atmospheric stars sucked in its accompanying star," Bodensteiner said. An interpretation that also confirms the stellar vampire theory.
Frost noted: "It is very difficult to record such a phase after a strong interaction because it has a short time. "This makes our findings for HR 6819 very exciting, because it is now a great option to study how this type of stellar vampire affects the evolution of massive stars and, in turn, to the formation of related phenomena, such as gravitational waves and supernova explosions."
Cover Photo: Graphic Design of HR 6819 Dual Star System
Credit: ESO/L. Calada