Astronomers Watch in Real Time as Epic Supernova Potentially Births a Black Hole

A team of astronomers recently took a series of pictures of a distant star as it goes supernova, providing a stunning depiction of the star’s death and possibly the birth of a black hole.

Supernovae are large explosions that occur when massive stars die. These events sometimes leave nebulae, neutron stars, or black holes in their wake. The timing of supernovae can be difficult to predict, often leaving astronomers only able to observe their effects, that is. stellar explosions of gas and dust.

However, a recent team was able to catch a supernova in the process, 22 million light years from Earth (which is not far from the galaxy). The team’s analysis of the catastrophic cosmic event was published today in the Nature.

“It’s very rare, as a scientist, to act quickly,” said Avishay Gal-Yam, an astronomer at the Weizmann Institute of Science and a co-author of the paper, in the Keck Observatory. to release. “Most scientific work is not done in the middle of the night, but an opportunity arose, and we had no choice but to respond accordingly.”

The supernova, known as SN 2023ixf, occurred as the reddest star in the galaxy Messier 101, also known as the Pinwheel galaxy, collapsed. The team observed the supernova using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, among others. Hubble had previously been hired to observe this region of the universe, meaning the team had a history of the region, before the red star disappeared.

The team calculated how much material was spewed out by the supernova, as well as the star’s mass and mass before it exploded. But the numbers were not met, giving the team a disappointing finish.

“Calculating the amount of material ejected from the explosion, as well as the amount of material and mass before and after the supernova, makes a difference, which makes it possible that the missing mass was in the black hole that was created after the explosion—something that is often it’s hard to tell,” said study author Ido Irani, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute, in the same article.

In the future, it may be possible to determine exactly how much material SN 2023ixf spewed out and the distribution of that material, as the team is still analyzing data from the starburst. But even the original paper is the stuff of a cosmic bomb.

More information: How Do We Know When the Sun Will Die?

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