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article imageBlack Hole discovered in Orion's Sword

By Abigail Prendergast     Nov 6, 2012 in Science
The Trapezium of stars that make up the famed Orion's Sword of the Nebula Cluster of the same namesake have always been cloaked in mystery regarding their rapid movement. Scientists say they may have found the culprit: a Black Hole of 200 solar masses.
The Orion Nebula, one of the most recognizable constellations in the known sky, has been the subject of awe and mystery since it was found scattered among the night. An international collective of astrophysicists, using elaborate computer modeling software, have brought light to the enigma that is the "binding force" of a cluster of "unruly and rapidly swirling stars" found in the famous stellar huntman's sword, which consists of four bright ones according to
The Nebula Cluster, named after the ultimately star-bound giant, has long been cloaked in a veil of uncertainly and, of course, intrigue, since Galileo discovered it almost 400 years ago. Speculated to have been formed one or two million years ago, the stars within the Sword, along with the rest of Orion can be seen quite well this time of year, "ascending in the east," reports EarthSky. It can be viewed from pretty much anywhere in the world.
According to astrophysicists, including Dr. Holger Baumgardt, the aforementioned force is likely to be a Black Hole located somewhere in the between the four bright-shining stars that make up the famed Orion's Sword, known in astronomy as the Trapezium at the very core of the Nebula.
"The stars in the cluster move at a rapid speed, as if the whole cluster was flying apart," says
The amount of high-mass stars are limited and move very rapidly as opposed to low-mass, lightweight stars within the confines of the Orion Nebula.
"These properties have been a puzzle to astronomers, given all the knowledge that they have about how stars are formed and distributed," said Dr. Baumgardt, professor of Mathematics and Physics at the UQ school. The findings of the study have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.
The Black Hole is measured to be about 200 times as massive as our own sun reports Cornell University Library. In astronomical terms, Orion sits in our "own backyard" a mere 1000 or so light years away says Science 2.0.
Setting up a virtual computer model of the Orion Nebula, "representing a tight cloud of inter-stellar gas containing the right combination of heavy and light stars."
Scientists then calculated the stars' movement within the confines of the system.
"In our model, we had to invent a new method of dealing with the gas and the way it is driven out from the cluster by the intensely radiating high-mass stars," said lead author and Charles University of Prague's Dr. Ladislav Subr.
As gas kept being pushed outward, the calculations explained, thus causing the cluster to expand and the stars to move around more rapidly. Dr. Baumgardt stated that studying and crunching the numbers for such a dense cluster was a challenge as the required computations were many.
Several of the heavy-massed stars were "sling-shot" from the cluster, where as others were forced into the middle of it and collided with the most massive star within it. Ultimately, said star became too massive, as well as unstable, and thus, collapsed into itself becoming a Black Hole.
"Our scenario neatly accounts for virtually all observed properties of the Orion Nebula Cluster, that is, its low number of high-mass stars, and its rapidly-moving central stars, and suggests that the massive stars near the centre of this cluster are bound by a black hole," said Dr. Subr.
The research team also pointed out how the findings dramatically impacted their perceptions on the formation of massive stars and how such rich clusters "hatch from their gaseous cocoons."
"Having such a massive black hole at our doorstep would be a dramatic chance for intense studies of these enigmatic objects," said study co-author, Professor Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn in Germany..
More about Black hole, Orion Nebula Cluster, Orion's Sword, Trapezium
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