The massive star is 75 million light years from Earth and suddenly disappeared

Black hole

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A group of astronomers has detected the disappearance of a star within a dwarf galaxy, an unusual phenomenon captured thanks to the Long Range Telescope (VTL) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Scientists at this Germany-based research institute studied this massive star, which is located 75 million light years from Earth, from 2001 to 2011, concluding that he was in his last stage of life.

In 2019 they again observed the constellation Aquarius, to which this star belongs, but they detected no trace of it in the Kinman dwarf galaxy, which used to house it.

One explanation, astronomers have clarified, is that its brightness has decreased and been hidden by cosmic dust, although there is an alternative possibility that attracts scientists more: the star could have collapsed into a black hole without becoming a supernova.

If so, explained the head of the investigation, Andrew Allan, it would be “Faced with the first detection of a massive star of this type that ends his life in this way ”.

According to the studies that exist so far on the last stages of the life of stars, a body of this size normally results in a supernova, a stellar explosion that scientists could have picked up without too much trouble.

After that, the remains of the star would generally form a neutron star smallest or black hole, the state the observed star might be in after it has completely skipped the supernova stage.

For the astronomers who published the study of this case on Tuesday, this situation would be “extremely unusual”, although certainly more interesting than the alternative explanation that its brightness has simply decreased and it is impossible to detect with the current tools.

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