Scientists Record Unique Moment of Black Hole Birth

Astronomers observed a spectacular outbreak of supernova in real time, suggesting the potential birth of a black hole. Recent data on the star explosion revealed a numerical inconsistency, providing rare evidence of a black hole forming before our eyes.

A team of astronomers captured multiple images of a distant star during the supernova eruption, offering unique evidence of star death and the potential creation of a black hole. Supernova explosions mark the culmination of massive star lifecycles, leading to the formation of nebulae, neutron stars, or black holes. Typically, astronomers only witness the aftermath of a supernova, such as gas and dust emissions.

However, scientists recently observed a supernova occurrence 22 million light-years away from Earth, a relatively close distance in astronomical terms. The analysis of this celestial event was detailed in a publication in the journal Nature.

“Rarely do scientists need to respond so swiftly,” remarked Avishai Gal-Yam, an astronomer from the Weizmann Institute and co-author of the study, in a press release from the KEK Observatory. “Most scientific projects do not entail overnight work, but we had no choice given this unique opportunity.”

The supernova, named SN 2023IXF, occurred following the end of a red supergiant star’s life in the Messier 101 Galaxy. Observations of the supernova utilized the Hubble Space Telescope, the KEK Observatory on Maunakea, and other instruments. Historical data from Hubble’s previous observations of the star region provided valuable insights prior to the red supergiant’s demise.

The research team analyzed the material ejected by the supernova, along with the star’s pre-explosion mass and density. Discrepancies in the calculations led to a significant conclusion.

“The discrepancies in the mass of material ejected by the explosion, as well as the star’s densities and masses before and after the supernova, indicate a high likelihood that the excess mass gave rise to the black hole formed during the explosion – a phenomenon that is typically challenging to confirm,” explained study co-author Ido Irani, a researcher from the Weizmann Institute.

Future investigations aim to determine the quantity and distribution of material expelled by SN

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.