back to article Remember that black hole just 1,000 light years from Earth? Scientists queue up to say it may not exist after all

The black hole thought to be nearest to Earth – a mere 1,000 or so light years away – may not exist at all, more than a dozen scientists have warned. The astronomers have written papers, listed below, concluding that the nearby star system HR 6819 does not contain a black hole at all, let alone the closest one to our fragile …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I feel an overwhelming urge to quote Holly!

    Well, the thing about a black hole - its main distinguishing feature - is it's black. And the thing about space, the colour of space, your basic space colour, is black. So how are you supposed to see them?

    And before anyone mentions it .... Yes! This is a copy & paste from my post for the last black hole story. But it actually fits better here!

    Because she also has an IQ of 6000 --------------->

    (+/-5999)

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: I feel an overwhelming urge to quote Holly!

      6000 PE teachers, actually. Imagine an army of those operating a moving space station.

  2. b0llchit
    Joke

    Who is stealing the stars?

    First we have the situation of a star going missing, presumably becoming a black hole without any big bang. Now, a black hole goes missing?

    My guess, the aliens are tired of us and are actively interfering with our view of the universe. Next up, galaxies start dancing whenever multiple telescopes look at the same object at the same time (introductory course to improbability research) or things get hidden in plain sight (elementary SEP field theory).

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      The Nine Billion Names Of God. It's what supercomputers were made for...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        The Nine Billion Names Of God

        As we see more and more stars going out, it doesn't indicate the impending end of the Universe. The other residents of the galaxy, having studied us quite closely since we unintentionally announced our presence by industrialising our planet, have decided that our propensity for utter idiocy precludes any further contact in case it's contagious.

        "Huh, they think they can build big walls" they said as they began construction of a Dyson sphere big enough to enclose the entire Oort cloud...

        1. Stumpy

          Re: Who is stealing the stars?

          With the stars going out ... how can we be sure that it isn't a Vogon Constructor Fleet building a new Hyperspatial Bypass?

      2. b0llchit
        Coat

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        Yes, yes,... "Where God Went Wrong", "Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes" and "Who is this God Person Anyway?". But, the real kicker is "Well, That About Wraps It Up For God".

        So, enumerating all those Nine Billion Names of a non-existent entity called God is a kind of a futile occupation. But then, futility is the basis for most existence anyway, so, if it keeps yourself busy without interfering too much; I guess.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      It's an update on the old "tree falls in a forest" conundrum:

      If a black hole disappears in a distant solar system, does it make a soun... um, no, I mean emit any photo... er... ah... will astrophysicists ever agree on what happened?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        That space-time smooths out a little bit?

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Who is stealing the stars?

          God is an iron.

          1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

            Re: Who is stealing the stars?

            So I fiercely try to be a good (God?) boy and try to find God. Now I have to check EVERY iron.

            1. b0llchit
              Go

              Re: Who is stealing the stars?

              Be careful, iron is the final stage at which fusion stops. And that is often accompanied with a big "boom", astronomically speaking. You may find the ripples to be both smoothed and created by the same phenomenon. Talking about divine paradoxes...

            2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

              Re: Who is stealing the stars?

              You don't need to check EVERY iron, only one. The tricky part is knowing which one.

          2. Danny 2 Silver badge

            Re: Who is stealing the stars?

            Not everyone reads great SciFi.

            Spider Robinson

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      It's worse than that Jim!

      These missing stellar bodies are part of a new unversal advertising campaign, the removal of the stellar bodies is to make way for three dimensional advertising hoardings, they will be erected by Universal Goobuuk the largest ad conglomerate in the cosmos.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        The largest ad conglomerate by several gigaparsecs.

    4. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      My guess, the aliens are tired of us and are actively interfering with our view of the universe.

      No, we're improving how much of the universe we can see faster than they're adding extra compute power to the simulation.

      1. b0llchit
        Joke

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        No, we're improving how much of the universe we can see faster than they're adding extra compute power to the simulation.

        This statement actually bothers me.

        If we are being simulated, then there is no "real time" for us. Therefore, adding extra compute power takes no time at all. However, if this is no simulation, then compute power is added to a fictional universe, which we cannot see beyond.

        What did I do wrong to deserve this? Oh, yeah, right, if anybody ever were to find out how this universe actually works, then it will be replaced...etc...

        1. intrigid

          Re: Who is stealing the stars?

          Not to mention the fact that while our Earthly computers are restricted in their capacity by time, space, and energy, there's absolutely no reason to believe that the computer running our simulation has to deal with such restrictions.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        The aliens don't need to add that much compute power to the simulation: they only need to fiddle our results.

    5. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      It's not been stolen, it's been accelerated!

      Should come crashing into the solar system in about 1000 years...

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Who is stealing the stars?

        What's this? Grand Theft Astro?

    6. Little Mouse

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      Stealing the stars? Maybe it's the Tau-Ceti Imperium snuffing them out.

      But that'll never happen to us, right? We've got kangaroos!

    7. redpawn Silver badge

      Re: Who is stealing the stars?

      "To Be or not to Be, that is the question:"

  3. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Nice

    Nice that scientists are wiling to warn us like this.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's called rigour

    This is why scientists always check each other's work, and don't take results posted by others at face value. More data are needed, as so often. Whatever the outcome, something interesting is going on. Either there is a black hole so close to earth (for a typically astronomical value of "close"), or a binary star system has been caught in the midst of a short (for a typically astronomical value of "short") evolutionary phase

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It's called rigour

      Yes, this is a really good example of that. In particular it's a great counterexample to the kind of all-the-scientists-are-conspiring-to-suppress-x things you hear too often. Here's a claim that would be hugely, hugely cool it it were true and would not show any theories to be false, and a couple of other groups have gone 'OK, let's look really hard at the data ... no, looks to be wrong after all, oh well'.

      1. b0llchit
        Coat

        Re: It's called rigour

        No, the scientists are not conspiring. It is the universe that is conspiring on a (typical astronomical) scale not seen before. The universe is trying to teach us a lesson. However, due to (typical astronomical) time scale, we need to wait a (astronomical) number of generations for the lesson to sink in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's called rigour

          > No, the scientists are not conspiring

          But it is a conspiracy: Group A write a paper claiming an unusual black hole and two stars system. Groups B, C, D & E write counter-papers. All insist more research is needed to get to the bottom of the mystery. Groups A,B,C,D,E ... profit.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      A petri dish

      You can watch the same process playing out on the news for Covid-19. One group of researchers say X. Another group say "hang on a minute maybe not X or not quite X, because..."

      But political groups who want X or Not X grab onto the relevant research as push it as the Truth™ as found by Scientists.™ And anybody who questions the research is suddenly in favour of mass murder or economic apocalypse.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: A petri dish

        I'm in favour of both!

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: A petri dish

          You're in favour of mass murder and economic apocalypse? That definitely marks you out!

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's called rigour

      It is a great example of rigour but also an example of how the public misunderstands science.

      Scientists analyze observations and develop hypotheses to explain them (generally using mathematics that is way beyond my capabilities). Multiple groups of scientists will often analyze the same observations and come up with differing hypotheses to explain them. Additional data will allow some, but not necessarily all, hypotheses to be rejected. Especially in astrophysics, where observations have all sorts of limitations due to technology and the availability of analogous observations, multiple hypotheses are the rule, not the exception.

      That said, we can rule out a Vogon Destructor Fleet because the observations do not show any signs of a star's destruction. Quel dommage.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: It's called rigour

        You missed the bit where scientists fudge the data so their pet "hypotheses" become theories, and the bit where the graduate student gofers can't make excel work properly and don't do math that well either and can't or won't check their work for reasonableness, and the bit where the editors of the publications the papers appear in don't do their due diligence on the tables of figures sent them for printing to see they make sense.

        Other than that, a perfect description of the academic scientific process.

        1. RM Myers Bronze badge
          Unhappy

          Re: It's called rigour

          Does your "fudge the data" include image manipulation and duplication? It seems to be a growth industry right now, at least for biomedical research. Photoshop and the like have been a real boon in the "publish or perish" era.

  5. nowster

    "Move along now. Nothing to see here."

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Ahhh, but the question seems to come to down to whether the Be start is moving along or not moving along...

  6. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I've been digging this grave, but now that it`s made

    I see that black is one hell of a color

    Want to break out so I start to shout

    But the mortician`s returned to his parlor

    Black hole

    Wrapped in my shroud upstairs, the music`s so loud

    That I can`t concentrate on my sorrow

    Let down my hair and find something to wear

    And then dance myself into tomorrow

    Black hole

    I`m in a hole here and all I can see

    Are these grey walls that are closing in on me

    Throw me a ladder, lend me an arm

    Beam me up Scotty, lift me from harm

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