NASA may have found Milky Way’s newest black hole

Brittany Hillen - Feb 13, 2013
NASA may have found Milky Way’s newest black hole

NASA has stated that it might have found the Milky Way's youngest black hole in the remnants of an exploding star. Although it isn't entirely certain this is the case, saying that the evidence is "a bit circumstantial", all signs point to such a reality, giving researchers the opportunity to study the creation of a black hole from a supernova.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory made the discovery in the remnants of W49B, a thousand-year-old supernova located approximately 26,000 light years away. Unlike most stars that collapse, exploding outwards in a symmetrical fashion, the W49B appears to have exploded along its poles, creating an asymmetrical explosion.

The remnants of this explosion can be observed in wavelengths and x-rays, which shows the evidence indicating an asymmetrical explosion. One of its most interesting realities, however, is its lack of a neutron star. Typically, the by-product of a supernova is a spinning core referred to as a neutron star, which researchers can find using several different means.

When searching for W49B's neutron star, however, they were presented with nothing, indicating the existence of a black hole. If this turns out to be the case, it will be a rare find for astronomers, and will provide an excellent chance for research into the creation of a black hole from a supernova. Says Daniel Castro, one of the co-authors of the project, stated: "It's a bit circumstantial, but we have intriguing evidence the W49B supernova also created a black hole. If that is the case, we have a rare opportunity to study a supernova responsible for creating a young black hole."

[via NASA]

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