Hubble Space Telescope | Witness The Birth Of a Black Hole

Black Hole
A star turned into a black hole before Hubble’s very eyes

Black Hole


Hubble Space Telescope Witness The Birth Of a Black Hole — When a massive star expends its fuel, its core collapses into a dense object and sends the rest of its gas outward in an event called a supernova. What’s left is mostly neutron stars or black holes. And now, Hubble seems to have seen a supernova blink out — suggesting it captured the moment when a black hole took over.

Black Hole

Only a few of these so called “massive fails” (yes, that’s what they’re calling them) have been spotted, so astronomers are cautious about the results.

It’s not everyday that you get to witness the birth of a black hole, and yet that it precisely what scientists believe they’ve seen.

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Using data from the Large Binocular Telescope and NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers watched as a dying star was likely reborn as a black hole. The star, which was 25 times as massive as our sun, should have exploded in a very bright supernova. Instead, it fizzled out—and then left behind a black hole.

Black Hole

A black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape. The strong gravity occurs because matter has been pressed into a tiny space. This compression can take place at the end of a star’s life. Some black holes are a result of dying stars.

While some supernova events are explosive and leave clouds of debris for thousands of years (aka nebula) like SN 1054, the star in question seems to have begun to explode and then had all its gas sucked right back into the black hole at the center. This can happen when the core collapse of the star is especially massive. Rather than exploding, the gas collapses directly into the core of the star.

Black Hole

A supernova is an astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star’s life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion.

“Massive fails” like this one in a nearby galaxy could explain why astronomers rarely see supernovae from the most massive stars, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.

Black Hole

This pair of visible-light and near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope photos shows the giant star N6946-BH1 before and after in vanished out of sight by imploding to form a black hole. The left image shows the 25 solar mass star as it looked in 2007. In 2009, the star shot up in brightness to become over 1 million times more luminous than our sun for several months. But then it seemed to vanish, as seen in the right panel image from 2015. A small amount of infrared light has been detected from where the star used to be. This radiation probably comes from debris falling onto a black hole. The black hole is located 22 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy NGC 6946.

Scientists aren’t entirely certain how often this strange phenomenon takes place but Scott Adams, a former Ohio State student who recently earned his doctorate doing this work believes they can make a rough estimate.


“N6946-BH1 is the only likely failed supernova that we found in the first seven years of our survey. During this period, six normal supernovae have occurred within the galaxies we’ve been monitoring, suggesting that 10 to 30 percent of massive stars die as failed supernovae,” he said.

Black Hole

This artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole that implodes instead of exploding as a supernova.
NASA, ESA, and P. Jeffries (STScI)

“This is just the fraction that would explain the very problem that motivated us to start the survey, that is, that there are fewer observed supernovae than should be occurring if all massive stars die that way.”

Watch following video for more details:




 References:

  1. http://astronomy.com
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk
  3. https://scitechdaily.com

 

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