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article imageSmallest black hole may have been found

By Owen Weldon     Dec 18, 2011 in Science
Researchers believe that they may have found the heartbeat of the smallest black hole. They were using NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer when they made the discovery.
It was just last week when astronomers found what they believed to be the largest black holes, and now they think they may have found the smallest black holes.
A team of astronomers from around the world was using NASA’s Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), which is designed to detect X-rays that come from cosmic sources. Using RXTE, the team identified a specific X-ray pattern, which is nicknamed heartbeat. The pattern indicted that a black hole was in a binary system with the star, according to Forbes.
According to Zee News, Diego Altamirano is an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, and he says that the heartbeat signals from black holes scales according to how large they are.
The black hole may weigh much less than the mass of the sun, almost three times less to be exact. This places the black hole near the minimum mass that is required in order for a black hole to be stable.
According to UPI, the black hole is part of a system that is named IGR J17091-3624, which is named after the black hole’s sky position.
The RXTE was launched back in 1995, and NASA says that the RXTE is only second to Hubble as the longest-serving of the agency’s operating astrophysics missions.
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