Washington, March 24 (ANI): Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science and San Diego State University have observed the largest exploding star yet seen, which is the size of 50 suns.
While exploding stars, called supernovae, have been viewed with everything from the naked eye to high-tech research satellites, no one had directly observed what happens when a really huge star blows up.
Dr. Avishay Gal-Yam of the Weizmann Institute’s Faculty of Physics and Professor Douglas Leonard of San Diego State University recently located and calculated the mass of a gigantic star on the verge of exploding, following through with observations of the blast and its aftermath.
As they continued to track the spectacular event, they found that most of the star’s mass collapsed in on itself, resulting in a large black hole.
Their findings have lent support to the reigning theory that stars ranging from tens to hundreds of times the mass of our sun all end up as black holes.
Until now, none of the supernovae stars that scientists had managed to measure had exceeded a mass of 20 suns.
Gal-Yam and Leonard were looking at a specific region in space using the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Identifying the about-to-explode star, they calculated its mass to be equal to 50-100 suns. Continued observation revealed that only a small part of the star’s mass was flung off in the explosion.
According to Gal-Yam, most of the material was drawn into the collapsing core as its gravitational pull mounted.
In subsequent telescope images of that section of the sky, the star seems to have disappeared. In other words, the star has now become a black hole – so dense that light can’t escape. (ANI)