Record-breaking black hole found ‘lurking’ close to Earth that was ‘undetected’ – it’s 33 times heavier than the Sun


ASTRONOMERS have uncovered a massive black hole just 1,924 light-years from our solar system.

Located in the constellation of Aquila, the monster black hole is known as Gaia BH3 (or simply BH3).

ReutersAstronomers have uncovered a massive black hole just 1,924 light-years away[/caption]

It was named after the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, which uncovered the “sleeping giant.”


black hole is an invisible area in space where gravity pulls so intensely that even light can not escape it.

The gravity in a black hole is so strong due to its dense matter being contained in a tiny space – this happens when a star is dying.

This specific black hole is the most massive we’ve spotted in the Milky Way with a stellar mass.


Its mass weighs 33 times that of our Sun – the previous most massive black hole of this class found in the Milky Way has a mass of around 20 times the Sun.

Gaia BH3 is also the second-closest black hole to Earth that we know of; the closest black hole is dubbed Gaia BH1.

Scientists uncovered the black hole thanks to its companion star, which exhibited motions that couldn’t be explained in any other way.

“No one was expecting to find a high-mass black hole lurking nearby, undetected so far,” said astronomer Pasquale Panuzzo

Panuzzo works for the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, is a member of the Gaia collaboration, and led the research on the new findings.

“This is the kind of discovery you make once in your research life,” he added.

Panuzzo and his team confirmed the finding by observing data from the ESA’s Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other ground-based observatories.

The research was published Tuesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Scientists say the new findings challenge what they know about how massive stars form and evolve. 

“This black hole is not only very massive, it is also very peculiar in many aspects,” Panuzzo said.

What is a black hole? The key facts

Here’s what you need to know…

A black hole is a region of space where absolutely nothing can escape
That’s because they have extremely strong gravitational effects, which means once something goes into a black hole, it can’t come back out
They get their name because even light can’t escape once it’s been sucked in – which is why a black hole is completely dark

What is an event horizon?

There has to be a point at which you’re so close to a black hole you can’t escape
Otherwise, literally everything in the universe would have been sucked into one
The point at which you can no longer escape from a black hole’s gravitational pull is called the event horizon
The event horizon varies between different black holes, depending on their mass and size

What is a singularity?

The gravitational singularity is the very centre of a black hole
It’s a one-dimensional point that contains an incredibly large mass in an infinitely small space
At the singularity, space-time curves infinitely, and the gravitational pull is infinitely strong
Conventional laws of physics stop applying at this point

How are black holes created?

Most black holes are made when a supergiant star dies
This happens when stars run out of fuel – like hydrogen – to burn, causing the star to collapse
When this happens, gravity pulls the center of the star inwards quickly and collapses into a tiny ball
It expands and contracts until one final collapse, causing part of the star to collapse inward thanks to gravity, and the rest of the star to explode outwards
The remaining central ball is extremely dense, and if it’s especially dense, you get a black hole

One way the black hole is puzzling researchers is that it’s (along with its companion) traveling in the opposite direction of how stars typically orbit in the Milky Way.


Astronomers typically divide black holes into three categories based on mass: stellar-mass, supermassive, and intermediate-mass.

Stellar-mass black holes have a star with more than eight times the Sun’s mass that runs out of fuel.

When this happens, its core collapses and forms what is known as a supernova.

A supermassive black hole is found at the center of almost every galaxy, including our own Milky Way.

These monster objects have hundreds of thousands to billions of times the Sun’s mass, Nasa noted.

Although “some scientists place the lower boundary at tens of thousands,” the agency added.

Meanwhile, intermediate black holes puzzle scientists in terms of their size.

They theoretically feature significantly more mass than stellar black holes but less than supermassive black holes.

“They think there should be a continuum of sizes because, over cosmic time, collisions between stellar-mass black holes should have created some intermediate-mass black holes,” Nasa said.