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Massive Star Goes Out With a Whimper Instead of a Bang
Ssc2017 07b

Credit: NASA/ESA/C. Kochanek (OSU)

Collage • May 25th, 2017 • ssc2017-07b

ssc2017-07b

This pair of visible-light and near-infrared photos from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows the giant star N6946-BH1 before and after it vanished out of sight by imploding to form a black hole.

The left image shows the star, which is 25 times the mass of our sun, as it looked in 2007. In 2009, the star shot up in brightness to become over 1 million times more luminous than our sun for several months. But then it seemed to vanish, as seen in the right panel image from 2015. A small amount of infrared light has been detected from where the star used to be. This radiation probably comes from debris falling onto a black hole.

The black hole is located 22 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy NGC 6946.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

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