The population of black holes left over from dead stars in the Milky Way is almost entirely unexplored. Only two dozen black holes are confidently known in our galaxy - all in binaries. As a result, many basic properties of black holes remain uncertain at the order of magnitude level, including the total number of black holes in the Milky Way, their masses, the fraction in binary systems, and whether black holes receive kicks at birth.
To understand these properties, we need to find and study a larger population of black holes, both in isolation and in binary systems. Gravitational lensing is opening a new window onto black holes, and the first free-floating black holes are now being discovered. Dr. Lu will present results from the search for black holes today and describe how the known number of black holes will increase 100x over the next decade.
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