A team of astronomers has discovered the first example of black holes in a globular cluster in our own galaxy. For the last 40 years it was widely thought that black holes would not likely be found in globular clusters. The reasoning behind this is that Black holes in a globular cluster may facilitate a way for them to get close enough to one another to merge into bigger black holes that may produce the ‘ripples in spacetime’ astronomers call gravitational waves.
Tom Maccarone says, “Trying to detect gravitational waves is one of the biggest problems in physics right now, because it would be the strongest test of whether Einstein’s theory of relativity is correct.” The stars can collide with one another in that environment. Maccarone goes on to explain, “The old theory believed that the interaction of stars was thought to kick out any black holes that formed. They would interact with each other and slingshot black holes out of the cluster until they were all gone.”
Maccarone made the first discovery of a black hole in a globular cluster in the neighboring NGC4472 galaxy 6 years ago. Instead of finding it through typically radio waves he found it by seeing them in X-ray emission from the gas falling into the black hole and heating up a couple million degrees (no big deal). Now his team has found 2 more examples this year in our very own galaxy and from radio emissions coming out of the globular cluster.
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