Eliot Quataert and collaborators have used the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission to discover a star like the Sun orbiting around a black hole with a mass of about 10 times the mass of the Sun. The black hole was found by carefully measuring the change on the sky in the location of the star as it orbits around the black hole, and was confirmed through measurements of the velocity of the star in its orbit around the black hole. This the first star orbiting far from a solar-mass black hole found in the Milky Way. Previous such black holes have been found as the black hole gobbles up the outer layers of the star and produces a bright source of light. In this case the black hole and star are too far apart for lots of gas to flow from the star to the black hole, though it is possible a small amount does as illustrated schematically in the above image. Read the paper reporting these results here. In addition, there are articles in The New York Times and Science News.
Nov. 8, 2022