Andrew Allan, a doctoral student in astrophysics at Trinity College Dublin, checked and rechecked the data. When a massive star went missing, astronomers expected to find a supernova in its place. Brandon Specktor - Senior Writer From this point, there are two main possibilities. NY 10036. The first flare of this supernova would have been visible through telescopes in the mid-1990s, but as it happens, none were peering into this galaxy at the time. There was a problem. It's impossible to know for certain with the current data. Is this the funniest animal picture ever? Somehow, after 2011, the star vanished without a trace. "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion," Allan said. In 2017, astronomers were stunned when a red giant star 22 million light-years away in the Fireworks Galaxy suddenly disappeared. But a massive star that astronomers were observing for a decade now appears to be totally missing. It's not impossible that the star underwent an undetected supernova, but such a massive star as a luminous blue variable would be expected to produce a supernova afterglow that shines in the sky for at least five years following the kaboom. 30 June 2020. The star, in the very late stages of its lifespan, was shining brightly between 2001 and 2011, when different teams of astronomers were regularly observing it to … A star has gone missing. The star's mysterious disappearance could hint at a new type of stellar death. "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local universe going gently into the night," Jose Groh, an astronomer at Trinity College Dublin and a co-author of a new paper on the star, said in a statement. One explanation rests with this kind of star’s nature. They discovered that the star had been undergoing a strong outburst period during this time, jettisoning enormous amounts of stellar material at a much faster rate than usual. The weirder and more exciting explanation is that the star never recovered from its outburst, but instead collapsed into a black hole without going supernova. LUCKY THING YOU!!!! "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night," said astrophysicist Jose Groh of Trinity College Dublin. New York, All Rights Reserved. Not in our own Milky Way, but in a galaxy about 75 million light-years away. Not in our own Milky Way, but in a galaxy about 75 million light-years away. For ten years, astronomers had been observing a giant star located in a dwarf galaxy that's 75 million light-years away. These explosions are easy to spot, as they stain the sky around them with ionized gas and powerful radiation for many light-years in every direction. For now, the case of the disappearing star will remain in the annals of unsolved stellar mysteries, alongside a star that seemed to have the opposite problem. In recent years, however, evidence has started to emerge that stars can indeed collapse directly into black holes without undergoing a supernova explosion. If this were the case, then the star could reappear in future observations. A MASSIVE star in a distant galaxy has baffled astronomers by disappearing without a trace. But a massive star that astronomers were observing for a decade now appears to be totally missing. They usually finish their life in a powerful, radiant explosion—a supernova—leaving behind a newly formed black hole. Following the blast, the dense core of leftover stellar material may collapse into a black hole or a neutron star — two of space's most massive and mysterious objects. Massive blue star disappears in unprecedented cosmic mystery By Georgina Torbet June 30, 2020 You’d think it would be hard to lose track of … One explanation could be that the star dimmed considerably after its outburst, and was then further obscured by a thick veil of cosmic dust. The weather hadn’t been great on the day that the telescope, perched in the mountains of northern Chile, had examined the distant galaxy. The first is that the star grew slightly dimmer, and became shrouded in a cloud of dust as it ejected material into the space around it - much like the dust cloud that may (or may not) have obscured Milky Way's red giant star Betelgeuse earlier this year. But those traces had vanished. Receive news and offers from our other brands? An unusually bright star has gone missing, in a mystery of cosmic proportions. In the earlier observations of the dwarf galaxy, this signature was present, indicating a star between 2.5 and 3.5 million times as bright as the Sun. Based on their observations, the team believes the star in PHL 293B was in an eruptive state between 2001 and 2011. So when the team turned all four of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope optical telescopes towards PHL 293B in August 2019, the absence was shocking. After Allan and his colleagues realized that the star had seemingly disappeared, they went through archival observations to search for clues. That’s at least one explanation for the apparent disappearance of a star 2.5 million times brighter than the sun in a dwarf galaxy 75 million light years away. LBVs can experience multiple outbursts like this in their temperamental old age, the researchers wrote, causing them to glow much more brightly than usual. But in observations obtained in 2019, the star's signature was completely absent. Can a massive star at the end of its life collapse into a black hole without first exploding in a supernova blast? Astronomers have studied it for nearly two decades, so it was pretty disconcerting when, one day last year, they looked at the latest observations and realized they couldn’t find it anymore.
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