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Astronomers discover Milky Way’s heaviest known black hole

The massive black hole BH3 was detailed in the open-access journal Astronomy & Astrophysics for further study.

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A screenshot of a video released by the ESA/Gaia/DPAC shows the orbit and motion of the BH3 system in our galaxy. (Mandatory Credits: ESA/Gaia/DPAC)

Astronomers have found BH3 is by far the heaviest known stellar black hole in the Milky Way galaxy, 33 times the mass of the Sun.

An international research team found the black hole when looking into the latest data group recorded in the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The black hole is located 1,500 light-years away from Earth, said TAU, whose researchers participated in the study of the newly discovered binary system.

In binary systems, a visible star can be found orbiting a massive but unseen companion, indicating the latter is a black hole.

Binaries have revealed around 50 suspected or confirmed stellar-mass black holes in the Milky Way, but scientists think there may be as many as 100 million in our galaxy alone, according to NASA.

Stellar-mass black holes are formed when a star runs out of its nuclear combustion fuel and collapses.

The massive black hole BH3 was detailed in the open-access journal Astronomy & Astrophysics for further study.

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