Middling black hole may be hiding in star cluster | Science News

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Middling black hole may be hiding in star cluster

Pulsar motion hints at extra source of strong gravity in 47 Tucanae

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1:00pm, February 8, 2017
middling black hole

HIDDEN FIGURE  An intermediate-mass black hole about 2,200 times as heavy as the sun may lurk at the center of this dense ball of stars, a globular cluster called 47 Tucanae.

Medium-weight black holes may exist after all. Astronomers say signs of a black hole with about 2,200 times the mass of the sun have been detected at the center of the star cluster 47 Tucanae. If confirmed, the discovery could hint at a new class of black holes, ones starved of gas.

“It’s notoriously challenging to observe the centers of star clusters,” says Bülent Kiziltan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “We looked at how the stars in the cluster were being stirred up. Their dynamics suggest there has to be a black hole there.” A study appearing online February 8 in Nature describes the intermediate-mass black hole.

Kiziltan and colleagues studied pulsars, neutron stars that rotate rapidly and emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. Observers on Earth see the beam as a regularly pulsed signal that can be used to track the

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