Scientists have discovered a new class of black holes that are smaller than thought possible, reports The Independent.
For years, astronomers believed black holes had to be at least five times the mass of the sun. However, they have discovered a black hole that is 3.3 times the mass of the sun – making it by far the smallest known one in the Milky Way. “We’re showing this hint that there is another population out there that we have yet to really probe in the search for black holes,” said lead author Todd Thompson, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University. “People are trying to understand supernova explosions, how supermassive black stars explode, how the elements were formed in supermassive stars.“So if we could reveal a new population of black holes, it would tell us more about which stars explode, which don’t, which form black holes, which form neutron stars. It opens up a new area of study,” he said.Black holes have such powerful gravitational pulls nothing – including light – can escape.