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NGC 6397 seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI

A cluster of stars 7,800 light-years away has a group of relatively small black holes hiding in its center.

The big picture: By learning more about this unexpected arrangement of stars and black holes, scientists might be able to piece together a better understanding of the complexities around how black holes behave.

The intrigue: Scientists were initially interested in the globular cluster of stars — named NGC 6397 — because they thought an elusive type of black hole known as an intermediate-mass black hole might be hidden within it.

  • After studying data from the Hubble Space Telescope, however, the researchers behind the new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics found that instead of one relatively large black hole at its center, NGC 6397 was actually hiding many smaller ones.
  • Those black holes likely arose from the deaths of massive stars and migrated toward the center of the globular cluster because of their immense gravity, influencing other stars as well.
  • Black holes within globular clusters could be a source of ripples in space and time called gravitational waves if they collide with one another.

Go deeper

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

6 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.