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Scientists Find Black Hole And A Star In A Dizzying 2.4 Hour Dance

365 days to orbit a sun? Pshaw: The MAXI J1659-152 black hole and its partner star do it in 2.4 hours.

Measurements made with Japan's MAXI telescope, bolted to the International Space Station, and Europe's XMM-Newton x-ray space telescope have revealed a star and black hole partnership where the two are orbiting at incredible speed.

The MAXI J1659-152 black hole is comparatively small, being just three times the size of our own star the Sun, and it's in orbit partnership with a red dwarf star that's a little smaller than the sun. But it takes just 2.4 hours for these two to whirl around each other—meaning the little star speeds along about 20 times faster than our Earth spins around the sun.

The discovery sheds more light on how stars and other celestial bodies function in our Universe, and helps support some of our theories about stars and black holes. Recently another discovery aided by the XMM-Newton telescope discovered a black hole that was spinning at very nearly the speed of light. A separate NASA discovery has revealed our galaxy's youngest black hole, which is also amazingly beautiful.

[Image: Flickr user NASAblueshift]

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  • Bkdamon

    Our Earth orbits the Sun every 365 days. If these 2 bodies (can you call a black hole a body?) are orbiting one another every 2.4 hours that's a bit more than 20 times.

  • Eric

    @BKDAMON: you have failed to consider the difference in orbital distances between the two pairs of orbiting bodies compared here.

  • firstPostEver

    Please make sure you properly caption artist renderings vs. actual photos to avoid misconceptions.