Title: Groundbreaking Observation Reveals Formation of Neutron Stars and Black Holes
Astronomers have made an unprecedented breakthrough, providing direct observational evidence of the formation of neutron stars and black holes. This groundbreaking discovery came from observing a nearby supernova explosion in a galaxy close to ours.
While it is not yet determined whether the object formed is a neutron star or a black hole, this finding confirms the long-held belief that the collapse of massive stars results in the formation of the densest objects in the Universe. Both stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars are believed to be the outcome of similar processes.
The journey begins when a dying star exhausts its fuel for fusion, triggering a sequence of events that ultimately leads to the ejection of its outer material and the collapse of its core. The nature of the compact object formed is determined by the mass of the initial star. Stars with less than eight times the mass of the Sun transform into white dwarfs, while stars between 8 and 30 solar masses collapse into neutron stars. The most massive stars, over 30 solar masses, become stellar-mass black holes.
Until now, our understanding of this process was based on observations of the aftermath, such as neutron stars shining within the remnants of supernova explosions. However, the lack of recent supernovae in the Milky Way limited our ability to directly observe the remnants. The closest supernova, observed in 1987, was obscured by an abundance of dust in its center, making it difficult to study.
Nevertheless, the recent supernova called SN 2022jli, which occurred in the spiral galaxy NGC 157, provided a unique opportunity for scientists to study the entire process. This supernova exhibited unusual behavior by displaying periodic changes in brightness every 12.4 days, unlike the typical smooth fading curve observed in most supernovae.
An astrophysics team believes that this peculiar behavior is the result of the interaction between the exploded star’s remnant and a surviving binary companion star. The analysis of bursts of gamma radiation and the movement of hydrogen in the vicinity of the supernova supports this hypothesis. It is believed that as the exploded star ejected its outer material, the companion star inflated with hydrogen, resulting in the observed periodic changes in brightness.
Although the exact nature of the compact object formed remains unknown, scientists are confident that it is either a black hole or a neutron star. This discovery represents the first time astronomers have been able to observe the emergence of a compact object in real-time, providing significant insights into our understanding of black holes and neutron stars.
The findings, published in Nature, signify the culmination of decades of observation, analysis, and theoretical work, further advancing our knowledge of these mysterious cosmic phenomena. This groundbreaking research highlights the significance of gathering and aligning evidence to unravel the mysteries of the Universe.