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Beyond Earthly Skies

A Black Hole Lurks in the Trapezium

29 Oct 2014, 22:00 UTC
A Black Hole Lurks in the Trapezium Hubble Legacy Archive, Robert Gendler
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) is a young star cluster whose age is estimated to be less than ~3 million years. Due to its proximity, the ONC is one of the best studied star clusters. At the heart of the ONC is the Trapezium, a tight cluster of several massive OB stars. A study by Subr et al. (2012) suggests that a massive black hole with more than 100 times the mass of the Sun might be lurking in the Trapezium. This is due to the large velocity dispersion observed for the 4 brightest Trapezium stars - Θ1A, Θ1B, Θ1C and Θ1D.Considering the small number of stars in the sample, such a velocity dispersion measurement is not particularly robust. Nevertheless, the large velocity dispersion indicates there is more mass holding the cluster together than can be accounted for by just the stars. As a result, the presence of a black hole with more than 100 times the Sun’s mass is hypothesized. A black hole of this mass would represent the collapsed remnant of what was once a massive runaway-mass star. At 1300 light years away, this black hole would be the closest known to Earth.This image shows the heart of ...

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