It’s been quite an interesting week in the astronomy world . The first came on Friday when NASA released a press statement on “an exceptional object in our cosmic neighbourhood” and boy were they right.
The Chandra space telescope had detected an object in a nearby galaxy which turns out is probably the youngest black hole ever discovered at 31 years old. This provides us with an amazing opportunity to discover what really goes on inside these gravitational monsters. The black hole was formed when a star 20 times the size of the Sun went supernova in 1979 (Hence the name SN1979c) in the nearby M100 galaxy. (Which is some 50 million light years away)
It could help astronomers understand the way that massive stars explode, which ones leave behind them neutron stars or black holes, how many black holes could there be in our galaxy and so on.
Co-author Abraham Loeb, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says that “this may be the first time the common way of making a black hole has been observed.
“However, it is very difficult to detect this type of black hole birth because decades of X-ray observations are needed to make the case.”
There might be some doubt about the idea of a black hole of an observed age of only 30 years, but it actually fits the current theories: in 2005, a theory that stated that the light coming from this supernova was fueled by a jet coming from a black hole, that couldn’t pass through the hydrogen envelope of the star to form a Gamma ray burst.
The second big bit of news came from the European Southern Observatory yesterday with the discovery of a new exo-planet. However unlike the others this one came from another galaxy. What happened was the galaxy that the star (HIP 13044) belonged to was, to put it simple, eaten by our galaxy. The remains of this galaxy have slowly been absorbed by our own. However that’s not the only thing cool about this star, what makes it more special is the fact it’s close to death.
As you may know when a star has burned up all the hydrogen it undergoes a process where it fuses other elements, resulting in the star swelling up into a giant (in this case a red giant) now 13044 has already gone through this process and at some point the planet, (HIP 13044 b) was physically inside the star!! Luckily for the planet the star blew it’s outer layers off before it could be completely engulfed by the star.
This is just another discovery in a long line that evaluates our place in the universe. At one point we believed we were the centre, then a special planet orbiting a star to one of thousands orbiting. Now it seems there are more planets than we thought. It’s exciting times we live in