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New knowledge about black holes: when a supernova suddenly “flashes”.

New knowledge about black holes: when a supernova suddenly “flashes”.

New information about black holes
When the supernova suddenly “flashes”.

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It's the culmination of decades of observation and theory: last year, researchers were able to fully observe the supernova process. In their analysis, they discover something amazing and solve another mystery about the mystery of black holes.

Researchers have discovered for the first time a direct relationship between supernovas and the formation of black holes and neutron stars. Scientists were able to observe the rare scene about 75 million light-years away. They discovered unprecedented changes in light, according to a study published in the British magazine “Nature”. Publication of the study Provides new evidence for the formation of black holes.

When a star exhausts its fuel supply, it “dies.” The star's gravity becomes so strong that it collapses in on itself. If this happens to massive stars, a large explosion occurs – a supernova. All that remains is the star's extremely dense core. Depending on its mass, this remnant could be a neutron star, an object so dense that a teaspoon of its matter weighs about a trillion kilograms on Earth. Or it turns into a black hole – an object from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

Supernovas have not been seen in our Milky Way Galaxy for a long time. There are already indications of how massive stars explode. However, the formation associated with black holes has not been observed in real time. “In our work, we make such a direct connection,” said study lead author Ping Chen. Because in May 2022, researchers finally got lucky. They discovered the supernova 2022jli in the galaxy NGC 157, which is about 75 million light-years away. When investigating the consequences, the researchers discovered something surprising.

Supernova is behaving strangely

After the explosion, the brightness of most supernovae typically decreases with time; Astronomers observed a gentle, gradual decrease in the “light curve” of the explosion. However, SN 2022jli did something different. After its peak, it did not fade evenly, but rather changed in brightness. During the 200 days that scientists tracked the supernova, it became brighter every 12 days and then gradually decreased in brightness. “This is the first time that recurring periodic oscillations have been detected over many cycles in a supernova's light curve,” astrophysicist Thomas Moore said in a study last year.

Astronomers believe that most stars are not isolated, but rather have companion stars. SN 2022jli also likely has a companion, one that survived the supernova and remains in orbit with the now-exploded object.

“Our research is like a puzzle.”

According to the study, the brightness changes are likely due to the interaction between the remains of SN 2022jli and its companion star. When SN 2022jli ejected its outer material, it inflated the companion star with hydrogen. As the compact remains of the star after the explosion accelerated through the atmosphere of the companion star in its orbit, it robbed it of hydrogen gas and formed a hot disk of matter around itself, causing the glow.

It is unclear whether the object is a black hole or a neutron star. However, researchers are confident that it is one of the two. This makes SN 2022jli the first supernova in which astronomers can observe the formation of a compact object in real time. “Our research is like solving a puzzle by gathering all possible clues,” Chen says. “All these pieces aligned together lead to the truth.”