Harvard and MIT scientists have announced that they may have discovered a black hole, only the third so far identified.
Following four years of research, Jeffrey E. McClintock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and MIT's Ronald A. Remillard told a meeting of the American Astronomical Society that they had identified a dark, massive object in the Constellation Monoceros as a probable black hole.
A black hole is believed to be the stellar remnant formed by the supernova explosion of a star. When the star's outer shell is blown away, the heavier elements of the core collapse upon themselves. This collapsing mass is then compacted by gravity into a mere point from which nothing, not even light, can escape.
Optical observations of X-ray nova A0620-00 made by McClintock and Remillard show a binary system in which one member is a dwarf star and the other is a black hole, the closest yet found to the earth. During outburst, stellar material drawn from the star and falling into the gravitational field of the black hole produces more energy than 10,000 suns.