‘Sleeping giant’: ESA’s Gaia mission finds massive black hole

a diagram of black holes discovered by the Gaia mission.

The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission has discovered a massive black hole with a mass almost 33 times that of the Sun.

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The ESA said the “sleeping giant” black hole is the first to be found this big inside the Milky Way galaxy.

Normally they’re only found in very distant galaxies not in our celestial backyard.

It was found in the constellation Aquila, less than 2,000 light-years from Earth. To put that in perspective, NASA said that the width of the Milky Wa is about 100,000 light years.

According to the ESA, “Matter in a black hole is so densely packed that nothing can escape its immense gravitational pull, not even light.”

If a black hole is near a star it will absorb the matter from the star and can release “extremely hot” material and X-rays but if there is nothing close enough to a black hole, they don’t generate light and are called “dormant.”

A team reviewing data for the next Gaia catalog release found the new black hole, dubbed Gaia BH3, the third dormant black hole found during the mission.

The lead author of the finding, Pasquale Panuzzo called the discovery one “you make once in your research life.”

Space.com says the closest black hole to us is Gaia-BH1, which is about 1,560 light-years away. It is small in comparison with Gaia-BH3, measuring only 9.6 times the mass of the sun.

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