Bombshell study warns thousands of stars may dissolve into ‘mob of black holes’
Thousands of stars could dissolve into a 'mob of black holes' within our galaxy, a new study has said.
A “Supra-massive” population of over 100 black holes has been discovered, and according to top boffins, each hole has a mass about 20 times as big as the Sun.
The gang exists inside an ancient cluster called Palomar 5 which sits about 65,000 light years from the Earth, the Daily Mail reports.
It has three times as many black holes as would be expected from a cluster of its size, and is pulling along a thin band of thousands of stars which could be the work of the black holes, say experts from the University of Barcelona.
This stream of stars – labelled by scientists as a “tidal stream” – stretches out a huge 13,000 light-years.
One of the biggest reasons scientists decided to investigate the phenomenon is to explore how these tidal streams work.
“One idea is that they are disrupted star clusters,” said lead author of the paper Mark Gieles, from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona.
“However, none of the recently discovered streams have a star cluster associated with them, hence we cannot be sure.
“So, to understand how these streams formed, we need to study one with a stellar system associated with it.
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“Palomar 5 is the only case, making it a Rosetta Stone for understanding stream formation and that is why we studied it in detail.”
The study suggests around 20% of the total cluster mass is that of black holes, created by supernova explosions as huge stars die off.
In this instance, the black holes would have formed at the very early stages of the 10 billion-year-old cluster.
In a billion years from now, they calcuate the cluster may have ejected all of its stars and only leave behind black holes, with the black holes eventually making up 100% of the mass.
Dr Denis Erkal, study co-author from the University of Surrey said: "This work has helped us understand that even though the fluffy Palomar 5 cluster has the brightest and longest tails of any cluster in the Milky Way, it is not unique.
"Instead, we believe that many similarly puffed up, black hole-dominated clusters have already disintegrated in the Milky Way tides to form the recently discovered thin stellar streams."
Another co-author of the study, Dr Fabio Antonini, from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, also said: "The same number, or perhaps even more, could be sitting at the centre of other star clusters that have formed tidal streams."
Excited researchers say the findings may shed light on the future of dozens of similar clusters in the Milky Way.
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