First black hole orbiting 'spinning' star discovered
Spanish scientists have discovered what may be the first binary system ever known to consist of a black hole and a "spinning" star, which is more accurately known as a Be-type star.
Although predicted by theory, none had previously been found.
The observations that led to the discovery were performed with the Liverpool and Mercator telescopes at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Canary Islands, Spain).
Be-type stars are quite common across the universe. In our galaxy alone more than 80 of them are known in binary systems together with neutron stars.
"Their distinctive property is their strong centrifugal force: they rotate very fast, close to their break-up speed. It's like they were cosmic spinning tops," Jorge Casares of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and La Laguna University (ULL), said.
The newly discovered black hole orbits the Be star known as MWC 656, located in the constellation Lacerta (the Lizard) -- 8,500 light-years from Earth.
The Be star rotates so fast that its surface speed exceeds 1 million kilometers per hour.
The findings are published in the journal Nature.
(Posted on 17-01-2014)