December 3, 2022
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In many science fiction movies, black holes are often the go-to way to plug plot holes and provide a quick deus ex machina when all seems lost for the space heroes. In the real world, we just watch them from a distance. But we keep finding closer ones.

Using the International Gemini Observatory, astronomers have discovered the closest known black hole to earth, which is still 1,600 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. That’s three times closer than the previous record.

The stellar-mass black hole has been dubbed Gaia BH1 (a fine name) and weighs about 10 times the mass of the sun. Researchers were able to spot it in the wild due to the motion of a nearby Sun-like star.

“Take the Solar System, put a black hole where the Sun is, and the Sun where the Earth is, and you get this system,” explained Kareem El-Badry, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.

“While there have been many claimed detections of systems like this, almost all these discoveries have subsequently been refuted. This is the first unambiguous…

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