In the coming years, thousands of satellites, several next-generation space telescopes and even a few space habitats are expected to be launched into orbit. Beyond Earth, multiple missions are planned to be sent to the lunar surface, to Mars, and beyond. As humanity’s presence in space increases, the volume of data that is regularly being back sent to Earth is reaching the limits of what radio communications can handle.
Imagine being caught in the clutches of a black hole, being whirled around at dizzying speeds and having your mass slowly but continually sucked away. That’s the life of a white dwarf star that is doing an orbital dance with a black hole. And this dancing duo could be the first ultracompact black hole X-ray binary identified in our galaxy.
Modern science is more about patience and persistence than about great epiphanies. It is therefore extremely satisfying when you make a breakthrough, as it means a lot of hard work has finally paid off. After monitoring a fairly quiet black hole for nearly 26 years, my colleagues and I were thrilled to suddenly catch it emit a powerful wind – something we didn’t even know black holes could do.