Artist’s impression of the triple system with the closest black hole

This artist’s impression shows the orbits of the objects in the HR 6819 triple system. This system is made up of an inner binary with one star (orbit in blue) and a newly discovered black hole (orbit in red), as well as a third object, another star, in a wider orbit (also in blue).

The team originally believed there were only two objects, the two stars, in the system. However, as they analysed their observations, they were stunned when they revealed a third, previously undiscovered body in HR 6819: a black hole, the closest ever found to Earth. The black hole is invisible, but it makes its presence known by its gravitational pull, which forces the luminous inner star into an orbit. The objects in this inner pair have roughly the same mass and circular orbits.

The observations, with the FEROS spectrograph on the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla, showed that the inner visible star orbits the black hole every 40 days, while the second star is at a large distance from this inner pair. 


ESO/L. Calçada

About the Image

Release date:6 May 2020, 14:00
Related releases:eso2007
Size:5000 x 3000 px

About the Object

Name:HR 6819
Type:Milky Way : Star : Evolutionary Stage : Black Hole
Quasars and Black Holes

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.5 MB
Publication JPEG
969.8 KB
Screensize JPEG
145.8 KB