A team of astronomers has discovered the closest known black hole to Earth using data from the Gaia spacecraft. They did it by observing the Sun-like star moving in unexpected ways caused by the gravity of an unseen massive object.
According to scientists, the star they observed revolves around a black hole with a mass of about 10 solar masses. The black hole designated Gaia BH1 is located just 1,560 light-years away from our planet in the constellation Ophiuchus. The black hole and a solar-type star that revolves around it are separated by about the same distance as our planet from the Sun.
It is possible that astronomers will soon be able to find even closer black holes. In a few years, Gaia should finish another survey of the sky with super-accurate data on the positions and movements of stars in the Milky Way. These observations may bring indications of other black holes that are otherwise invisible.
It has been suggested that there could be hundreds of millions of stellar-mass black holes lurking in the Milky Way alone. It is extremely difficult to detect such compact and dark objects, and so far, scientists have only spotted just a handful. The vast majority of found black holes are discovered because of their partners – the neighboring stars.