Possible birth of a black hole witnessed

X ray vision of SN1979C
X ray image of SN1979C (picture by NASA)

Using the X-ray telescope Chandra NASA discovered the possible presence of a black hole just 30 years old in the M100 galaxy at about 50 millions light years from Earth.

This black hole should have been born as a consequence of the supernova SN1979C discovered in 1979. The exploded star had a mass estimated in twenty solar masses.

This black hole is interesting not only because it’s closer than others discovered during the last years and it’s very young but also because the discovery of black holes that are very far was determined by their gamma ray bursts while SN1979C belongs to a class of supernovae not associated to them because it didn’t eject all its outer hydrogen layer.

Actually right now it’s possible that the X ray emission associated to the black hole is fact caused by a neutron star spinning very fast producing a sort of high energy particles wind that produces the X rays.

Regardless, it’s an extraordinary event that’s already giving scientists all around the world a huge amount of data to analyze to better understand the mechanism of star explosion and the consequent formation of neutron stars and black holes.

The theories that explain the various modes a star can die made giant leaps forward since the time when black holes were purely theoretical entities not accepted in all scientific world. Obviously checking theories about cosmic events that can take place even billions light years from us with the consequent problems in locating them and registering enough data is far from easy.

This time scientists were luck so the study of SN1979C might lead to a leap forward in astrophysics. Sometimes in science despite the committment of many people you need some luck to bring progress in our knowledge.

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