TechMysterious vanishing stars may collapse straight into black holes

Mysterious vanishing stars may collapse straight into black holes

black hole
black hole
Images source: © NASA

8:22 AM EDT, May 26, 2024

In recent years, astronomers have developed an interest in the phenomenon of stars that seem to disappear from our field of view without a clear cause. The VASCO project, initiated in 2019, aims to catalog instances of stars vanishing over the past 70 years and has found around 100 such objects. Typically, stars do not disappear overnight but gradually fade away, like Betelgeuse, for example, or explode as a supernova, ultimately collapsing into a black hole or neutron star.

An international team led by astrophysicist Alejandro Vigna-Gómez from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany conducted research that sheds new light on this phenomenon. In an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters, experts suggest that stars of appropriate mass may collapse directly into a black hole without experiencing a supernova explosion. Previous knowledge about black hole formation always assumed the violent phenomenon of a supernova as an intermediate stage.

Stars disappeared without a clear cause

According to IFL Science, evidence for this has been found in a binary system called VFTS 243 in the Large Magellanic Cloud on the outskirts of the Milky Way. This system consists of a black hole and a companion star, which orbit each other every 10.4 days. It shows no signs of a supernova explosion, which, according to existing models, should accompany the formation of a black hole. This may explain the mysterious disappearance of some stars. Despite these promising observations, experts emphasize the need for further research to confirm their assumptions.

The research results suggest that the disappearance of some stars could be a direct result of fully collapsing into black holes, in a process where the emission of neutrinos and, to a lesser extent, gravitational waves dominate over the massive ejection of matter. "Our observations have allowed us to understand better how black holes can form through complete collapse without the star exploding as a supernova," explained Alejandro Vigna-Gómez, one of the study's authors, in a press release.

Such disappearances observed by astronomers bring us closer to understanding some of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. This work, as emphasized by Professor Irene Tamborra from the Niels Bohr Institute and a study co-author, represents an important confirmation of theoretical models. It is expected to become a key reference point in future studies on the evolution of stars and their collapse.

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