A new report in The Astrophysical Journal claims that two stars may have just collided to create a black hole. If this is true, it may radically alter our understanding of how these super structures are formed. The alternative is potentially just as crazy sounding, that two neutron stars can fuse. Either way, something very large and exciting has happened in deep space.
Colliding Stars In The Deep
In an event widely discussed in the Astronomy community, August 2017 saw two distant neutron stars collide. As well as providing detailed information about how elements may be formed and even further proof of gravitational waves, little could have prepared us for what came next. We were left to wonder, what became of the cosmic dance partners?
In his report, Astrophysicist David Pooley asserts that the two colliding stars may have created a black hole. The research examined the nature of electromagnetic waves emitted from the site. If the two stars had combined to form a larger one, what we understand of physics would dictate a high emission of such waves.
But actually, we have detected very little. An observation convincingly explained not by a ‘Super Star’, but a black hole.
Black Holes Born
Conventional theories surrounding the birth of a black hole suggest a gradual accumulation of matter under gravity. As the mass increases, it draws in more material and increases its gravitational strength.
At a certain point, the gravity is enough to prevent light itself from escaping.
So when you look for a black hole, you look for a hole in space. Where the light should be and is not, chances are a black hole exists. Usually these result from a supernova, where the mass of a star becomes incredibly small under its own gravitational weight.
This new report expands on the circumstances in which such phenomena may develop. It may very much be that black holes are not just the result of a star dying, but a dark creation forged between two.
Research is ongoing, and we may have to wait a little while before the finding is proved beyond complete doubt. But in the mean time, we may have a new view of the darkness in the night sky.
So what do you think is really happening? And if black holes can form this way, what does it tell us about the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy?
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr Janaway alone and may not represent those of his affiliates. Images courtesy of Flickr.