Berkeley student throws cold water on ‘monster’ black hole discovery

December 17, 2019

El BadryQuataert750px Kareem El-Badry and Eliot Quataert discuss the evolution of black holes in our galaxy, which may number in the 10s of millions if not 100s of millions. (UC Berkeley photo by Hulda Nelson)

Sometimes, a blockbuster discovery is just too good to be true. UC Berkeley graduate student astronomer Kareem El-Badry knows that all too well — he just shot one down.

El-Badry studies unusual binary star systems in which one of the two stars orbiting each other explodes as a supernova and turns into a black hole. But he was surprised when, on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, Chinese astronomers reported such a system with a black hole that was astoundingly large: 70 times the mass of our sun.

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