Supernova leftovers may contain newest black hole in Milky Way

Feb 13, 2013
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Supernova leftovers may contain newest black hole in Milky Way

New data just in from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows a rare supernova with remnants that may possibly contain the Milky Way's newest black hole. The supernova's leftovers appear to be the result of a rare explosion of a star. NASA is calling it W49B, and it's about a thousand years old and located about 26,000 light-years away (roughly 152 quadrillion miles away).

NASA is calling it a rare occasion, because this particular supernova ejected materials from its poles at much higher speeds than most other supernovas. A typical supernova ejects matter in all directions in a mostly symmetrical fashion. The lead researcher of the study, Laura Lopez, says that "W49B is the first of its kind to be discovered in the [Milky Way] galaxy."

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray space telescope, researchers found that this supernova was very asymmetrical, and only half of the remnants showed concentrations of iron, while sulfur and silicon were spread evenly throughout the explosion. This type of explosion is known as a bipolar supernova, and it's never been seen before in our galaxy.

Based on what was left behind, it's said that a black hole may have formed. Most of the time, supernovas leave a neutron star behind. However, the Chandra telescope revealed no evidence of a neutron star existing, which implies that a black hole may have formed instead. Co-author Daniel Castro say that "it's a bit circumstantial," but there's solid evidence that suggests a black hole. The official report will be published in this upcoming Sunday's issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

[via Wired]


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