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The scene shows the fictional planet Mann in the sci-fi movie Interstellar by Christphere Nolan. Mann is an ice planet that orbits the massive black hole Gargantua. Can an alien planet actually orbit around a black hole, an object with the reputation for consuming stars and worlds in its path? Scientists recently theorized this possibility. Their study shows that a planet can stay in a stable orbit around a black hole if the following conditions are met: 1) the planet orbits very close to the black hole’s event horizon; 2) the surface of the black hole does not spin very fast; 3) the black hole is very massive (over 160 million times the Sun’s mass). The existence of such planets is based on theoretial grounds, but it would be very difficult to detect their transit due to the deep darkness of the event horizon.
Credits: INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo. Black hole image by NASA-GSFC/Jeremy Schnittman. Reference: Bakala et al. (2020, ApJ 889, id.41)
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