Stars are one of the most fascinating entities the wide universe presents to us among various other intriguing occurrences. They show an array of variations in their cycle of birth and death providing us with an expanse of material to study. We have established from the proceedings of the universe that non ideality is constant. Therefore, with each discovery, we know another is on the way! A recent finding about stars has skipped the realms of realism and has opened new avenues for exploration.

Dying stars go out with a bang – in scientific terms, they create a supernova. However, scientists recently observed a star that went out by skipping the supernova phase and going straight into a black hole. The discovery not only teaches us more about stars; it could also uncover the mysteries behind some of the universe’s most massive black holes.

Star N6946-BH1 before and after it vanished out of sight by imploding to form a black hole.

Scientists at The Ohio State University have, for some time, been watching a galaxy 22 million light-years away. That galaxy, called NGC 6946 and nicknamed the “Fireworks Galaxy,” sees a large amount of supernovae that scientists observe via the help of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT).

In 2009, scientists noticed that one star, N6946-BH1, was approaching its final stages. Curiously, the star mysteriously disappeared in 2015. It had no characteristic supernova or even a flash. The scientists concluded that it had instead become a black hole, something that scientists usually believe can only happen after a supernova. Scientists aptly called this unusual trajectory a “massive fail,” and published their results in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The doomed star, named N6946-BH1, was 25 times as massive as our sun. 

“The typical view is that a star can form a black hole only after it goes supernova,” said Ohio State astronomy professor and study researcher Christopher Kochanek in the press release. “If a star can fall short of a supernova and still make a black hole, that would help explain why we don’t see supernovae from the most massive stars.”

Scientists are still unsure about the exact percentage of stars that go through massive fails but it is roughly estimated to be the fate of about 10 to 30 percent massive stars. A typical explosion of the supernova ends up blasting out the star’s outer layers, leaving behind less mass to create a black hole. If no supernova was involved, more of the star’s mass would be available to transform into a more massive black hole.

Since this finding has a close correlation to the formation of black holes, further studies could unravel baffling mysteries about black holes and their existence in the universe, perhaps a glimpse into the very fabric of time and space!

Want to explore black holes? Check out how they could hold the mysteries of time here!

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