Researchers Discover Star in Closest Known Orbit around Black Hole

March 20, 2017

Artist’s impression of the X9 system showing a white dwarf in the closest orbit known around a stellar mass black hole. This discovery was made using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in the inset where low, medium, and high-energy X-rays are colored red, green, and blue respectively), plus NuSTAR telescope and ATCA. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Alberta/A.Bahramian et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

An international team of astronomers, including Slavko Bogdanov, Associate Research Scientist at the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, has observed evidence of a white dwarf that whips around a black hole at a rate of nearly twice an hour. If confirmed, the finding could demonstrate the tightest binary orbit of a black hole and a companion star ever seen. The study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is now available online.

The Columbia press release can be found here.

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