Monday, December 6, 2010

'Youngest black hole' discovered by Nasa

Evidence of the black hole was detected by space telescopes just 30 years after it was created by a supernova, or an exploding star.

The blast took place in 1979 in the relatively nearby M100 galaxy some 50 million miles from Earth.

For a brief time the supernova, discovered by an amateur stargazer and labelled SN 1979C, looked brighter than all the billions of other stars in the same galaxy put together.

Later, a bright source of X-rays was detected from the same spot by three telescopes in space – Nasa's Chandra, Europe's XMM-Newton and Germany's ROSAT.

The X-ray radiation remained strong between 1995 and 2007. It is thought to have been produced by a new black hole consuming material pouring into it.

Astronomers believe that the black hole formed when a star about 20 times larger than the sun exploded and its core collapsed in on itself.

It became an invisible galactic plughole so powerful that even light cannot escape its gravitational pull, experts believe.

Nasa's Daniel Patnaude, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the research, said: "If our interpretation is correct, this is the nearest example where the birth of a black hole has been observed."

Though a black hole is the favoured explanation, the scientists point out that the X-ray emission could be produced by a young, rapidly spinning neutron star with a powerful wind of high energy particles.

View the original article here

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