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Largest Black Hole in the Milky Way Discovered, Relatively Close to Earth

The European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope has discovered what is currently the largest black hole in the Milky Way, named Gaia BH3, which originated from the collapse of a star.
This black hole has a mass 33 times that of the Sun.

At the center of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole named Sagittarius A, recently captured in a spectacular photo. Black holes can be found elsewhere in the Milky Way; many smaller ones were formed following the collapse of gigantic stars. Scientists estimate there could be at least 100 million such black holes in our galaxy, with the majority still undiscovered.

Previously identified black holes average about ten times the mass of the Sun, with the largest until now being 21 times as massive. However, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Gaia telescope has now discovered an even larger one, with a mass 33 times that of the Sun. Uniquely, it is relatively close to our planet, located just 1,926 light-years away.

Researchers first noticed Gaia BH3 in the nearby Aquila constellation, where the light from an ancient giant star was found to be fluctuating. Scientists from ESA suspected it orbited a massive black hole. Despite this, locating the black hole proved challenging due to the lack of nearby celestial bodies from which it could draw matter. If such an event were to occur, its event horizon would become visible to X-ray telescopes.

To measure its mass, researchers utilized ground-based telescopes. A preliminary study on the celestial body has already been published in the scientific journal _Astronomy & Astrophysics_, with plans for a comprehensive study to be completed by 2025.

Current knowledge indicates that the star orbiting it contains few elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. Since star pairs are generally similar in mass and composition, BH3 is likely to have evolved from such a star.

The theory proposed by researchers is that stars lacking in metals are those that collapse into black holes, as they retain sufficient material for this transformation. This may be the first indirect evidence supporting this notion. Additionally, the discovery could demonstrate that older stars developed differently from newer ones in the galaxy.

ESA scientists believe that the discovery of BH3 is just the beginning, and further studies will be conducted to understand more about it. These findings could bring us closer to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
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