And just like a cluttered attic, this corner of sky has been hiding something truly remarkable.
Astronomers have discovered a black hole in one of the constellations, the suitably named Telescopium. At just 1,000 light-years away, the black hole is closer to our solar system than any other that astronomers have found to date. A thousand light-years might sound distant to us, but in cosmic proportions, it’s very close.
“On the scale of the Milky Way, it’s in our backyard,” Thomas Rivinius, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile who led the new research, told me. “Almost on our doorstep.”
For comparison, consider some of the best-known black holes in astronomy, the ones usually intriguing enough to make headlines. The black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is more than 25,000 light-years away, and the black hole that astronomers captured in unprecedented detail last year lies 55 million light-years away, in another galaxy altogether.