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Closest known black hole to Earth spotted by astronomers

The black hole was initially identified using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronomers have discovered the closest known black hole to Earth, just 1,600 light-years away.

Scientists reported Friday that this black hole is 10 times more massive than our sun. And it’s three times closer than the previous record-holder.

It was identified by observing the motion of its companion star, which orbits the black hole at about the same distance as Earth orbits the sun.

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The black hole was initially identified using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, said Kareem El-Badry of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

El-Badry and his team followed up with the International Gemini Observatory in Hawaii to confirm their findings, which were published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The researchers are uncertain how the system formed in the Milky Way. Named Gaia BH1, it's located in the constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.

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By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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