Cygnus X-1 System

New observations of the first black hole ever identified have led astronomers to question what they understand about the Universe’s most mystical things.

Released today (February 18, 2021) in the journal Science, the research shows the system known as Cygnus X-1 includes the most huge stellar-mass great void ever identified without making use of gravitational waves

Cygnus X-1 is among the closest great voids to Earth. It was found in 1964 when a pair of Geiger counters were continued board a sub-orbital rocket introduced from New Mexico.


An animation showing the Cygnus X-1 system, including a black hole in orbit with a giant star. Current observations by radio telescopes have discovered the system is 20 percent even more away than previously believed, suggesting the great void is 21 times the mass of the Sun, making it the most enormous stellar-mass great void ever found without making use of gravitational waves. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

The object was the focus of a popular scientific wager between physicists Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, with Hawking wagering in 1974 that it was not a black hole. Hawking yielded the bet in 1990.

In this newest work, a worldwide group of astronomers used the Very Long Standard Selection– a continent-sized radio telescope comprised of 10 dishes spread throughout the United States– together with a creative technique to determine distances in space.

Cygnus X-1 Artist's Impression

An artist’s impression of the Cygnus X-1 system. This system consists of the most enormous stellar-mass great void ever discovered without the use of gravitational waves, weighing in at 21 times the mass of the Sun. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Study

” If we can see the very same item from various places, we can compute its distance far from us by determining how far the things appears to move relative to the background,” stated lead scientist, Professor James Miller-Jones from Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research ( ICRAR).

” If you hold your finger out in front of your eyes and see it with one eye at a time, you’ll discover your finger appears to leap from one area to another. It’s precisely the same principle.”

Cygnus X-1 Observations Using Parallax

Astronomers observed the Cygnus X-1 system from various angles utilizing the orbit of the Earth around the Sun to measure the viewed motion of the system versus the background stars. This allowed them to improve the distance to the system and therefore the mass of the black hole. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

” Over six days we observed a full orbit of the great void and utilized observations taken of the very same system with the very same telescope variety in 2011,” Teacher Miller-Jones said. “This method and our new measurements show the system is even more away than previously believed, with a black hole that’s substantially more huge.”

Co-author Professor Ilya Mandel from Monash University and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) stated the black hole is so massive it’s really challenging how astronomers believed they formed.

” Stars lose mass to their surrounding environment through stellar winds that blow away from their surface area. But to make a black hole this heavy, we require to call down the quantity of mass that intense stars lose during their life times” he stated.

Cygnus X-1 System Artist's Impression

An artist’s impression of the Cygnus X-1 system. A stellar-mass great void orbits with a companion star situated 7,200 light years from Earth. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

” The great void in the Cygnus X-1 system started life as a star around 60 times the mass of the Sun and collapsed tens of countless years earlier,” he stated. “Extremely, it’s orbiting its buddy star– a supergiant– every 5 and a half days at simply one-fifth of the range in between the Earth and the Sun.

” These new observations inform us the great void is more than 20 times the mass of our Sun– a 50 per cent increase on previous price quotes.”

Xueshan Zhao is a co-author on the paper and a PhD candidate studying at the National Astronomical Observatories– part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) in Beijing.

Cygnus X-1 Sun Comparison

Recent observations show the great void in the Cygnus X-1 system is 21 times the mass of the Sun– a 50 per cent increase on previous estimates. To form such a massive great void, astronomers had to modify their price quotes of just how much mass stars lose by means of excellent winds. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Study

” Using the upgraded measurements for the black hole’s mass and its distance far from Earth, I was able to verify that Cygnus X-1 is spinning incredibly rapidly– extremely near the speed of light and faster than any other black hole discovered to date,” she stated.

” I’m at the beginning of my research career, so belonging of a global team and helping to refine the properties of the first black hole ever found has actually been a great chance.”

Next year, the world’s most significant radio telescope– the Square Kilometre Selection (SKA)– will begin building and construction in Australia and South Africa.

” Studying great voids is like shining a light on the Universe’s best concealed– it’s a challenging but interesting location of research study,” Professor Miller-Jones said.

” As the next generation of telescopes comes online, their improved level of sensitivity reveals deep space in significantly more information, leveraging decades of effort invested by researchers and research study teams all over the world to much better understand the universes and the unique and severe objects that exist.

” It’s a good time to be an astronomer.”

References:

” Cygnus X-1 contains a 21- solar mass great void– ramifications for massive star winds” 18 February 2021, Science
DOI: 10.1126/ science.abb3363

” Reestimating the Spin Parameter of the Great Void in Cygnus X-1″ 18 February 2021, The Astrophysical Journal

” Wind mass-loss rates of removed stars presumed from Cygnus X-1″ 18 February 2021, The Astrophysical Journal

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