The data were collected by China's Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), Spain's Gran Telescopio Canarias, Keck I telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory in the United States. Astronomers have found a stellar-mass black hole clocking in at around 70 times the mass of the Sun - but according to current models of stellar evolution, its size is impossible, at least in the Milky Way.
An global team of scientists have detected a huge black hole with a mass 70 times larger than the Sun, which is believed to be the biggest individual stellar black hole that has been discovered in our galaxy till now.
Accretion of gas onto a stellar black hole from its blue companion star, through a truncated accretion disk (Artist impression).
"Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution", said Liu Jifeng, astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of China and first author of the study, in a press release.
Scientists generally believe that there are two types of black holes.
A new black hole search method has just yielded fruit, and boy is it juicy.
David Reitze, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology who was not involved in the discovery, told AFP: 'Astronomers are still only beginning to grasp 'the abundance of black holes and the mechanisms by which they form'. "Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation".
Black holes, unless they are actively accreting matter, a process that glows in several wavelengths across the spectrum, are literally invisible.
But it took follow-up observations using the powerful Gran Telescopio Canarias in Spain and the Keck Observatory in the U.S. to reveal the fantastic nature of what the scientists had found. Follow-up observations with telescopes in Spain and the USA led to the discovery of a star about eight times larger than the sun orbiting the black hole every 79 days.
Black holes like LB-1, then, may have formed by a black hole-black hole merger - or it may even be two black holes orbiting each other. The team is now working on further studies to test the double black hole idea.
The few nearby black holes discovered so far have been found because they're locked ina close orbit with a star. This is theoretically possible under certain conditions, but no direct evidence for it now exists.
Of all the forces in the Universe that we can't see, none has frustrated human curiosity as thoroughly as the invisible, star-devouring monsters known as black holes.
"This remarkable result along with the LIGO-Virgo detections of binary black hole collisions during the past four years really points towards a renaissance in our understanding of black hole astrophysics", said Reitze.