Black hole Cygnus X-1 in the Milky Way is being re-measured – with surprising results


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Researchers re-measure a long-known black hole in the Milky Way. ©

 The  measurement data reveal amazing things and shed new light on the origin of the phenomenon.

  • On black hole, which has been known for almost 50 years, is being re-measured by researchers.
  • In doing so, they realize: It’s about that fastest known black hole – and it helps to shed new light on that Formation of black holes to throw.
  • You can find the latest from space research on our topic page.


 The  first black hole in the Milky Way was discovered in 1972 by the US astronomer Tom Bolton. Cygnus X-1 circles you blue giant star with the designation HDE 226868. At that time the famous physicist Stephen Hawking bet with his colleague Kip Thorne that it wasn’t a black hole – and later had to admit that he was wrong. Today Cygnus X-1 is considered to be the first ever discovered stellar black hole. But how far that black hole and be Companion star distance from Earth could only be roughly estimated so far – just like the masses of the black hole and the blue giant star.

Now an international astrophysics team has taken on the challenge and gained several new insights: On the one hand, this is black hole Cygnus X-1 farther from earth than previously assumed. On the other hand, it is much more massive than expected, the researchers found. ©

 The y published their study in the journal “Science”.

Black hole Cygnus X-1: Researchers observe it for six days


 The  research team used the “Very Long Baseline Array”, a cluster of ten radio telescopes distributed throughout the USA, to carry out a so-called parallax measurement. This measurement is based on the principle that the distance to an object can be determined by observing it from two different locations. “In our case, the different observation positions result from the movement of the earth around the sun,” explains astrophysicist Jörn Wilms from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), one of the co-authors of the study to the news agency afp.


 The  researchers headed by project leader James Miller-Jones (International Center for Radio Astronomy Research) observed the des system for six days black hole’s Cynus X-1 and recorded a total of more than 2000 measured values. In the subsequent analysis, they found that the rough estimates so far were not entirely correct: Cygnus X-1 is significantly further from that earth away than previously thought: About 7200 light years instead of 6100 light years as previously estimated. From this, the researchers concluded that the black hole must also be significantly larger than previously assumed. “We have calculated that that black hole more than 20 times as massive as the sun is – that exceeds previous estimates by 50 percent, ”says Wilms.

Cygnus X-1 is the fastest known black hole

Based on their new data, the researchers assume that the black hole Cygnus X-1 Einstein Stern which was about 60 times the size of that Sun was. Ten thousand years ago it collapsed and became one black hole. Orbited within five and a half days Cygnus X-1 today its companion star, the orbit being only one fifth of the distance between the earth and the sun. It turns black hole Cygnus X-1 very fast: It comes very close to the speed of light and is therefore faster than any other known black hole.


 The  new findings from the research team also shed new light on the Formation of black holes: So far it was thought that bright stars up to her Explosion als Supernova lose a lot of mass in their surroundings. “Star winds effectively blow matter away from the surface,” explains astrophysicist Wilms. So a black hole but could be as massive as Cygnus X-1, the loss of mass must be significantly lower than previously thought. “Black holes are still some of the best-kept secrets in the universe. With our project we were able to reveal another part of this mystery, ”says the astrophysicist happily.

Black holes surprise researchers again and again: sometimes a black hole is missing that should actually exist, sometimes a black hole “feeds” itself on the surrounding galaxies. In 2019 researchers were able to photograph a black hole for the first time – but this required a telescope that spanned the entire earth. (Tanja Banner with afp)

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Black hole Cygnus Milky remeasured surprising results


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