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NASA Scientists spotted the Youngest Black Hole W49B in the Milky Way

Feb 24, 2013 13:07 IST

NASA scientists spotted the youngest black hole yet in the Milky Way galaxy called W49B, which is just 1000-years-old and only 26000 light-years away from Earth. New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggested a highly distorted supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy.

NASA explained that W49B appears to be the product of a rare explosion in which matter is ejected at high speeds along the poles of a rotating star. Laura Lopez, who led the study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that W49B is the first of its kind to be discovered in the galaxy. Usually when a massive star runs out of fuel, the central region of the star collapses, triggering a chain of events that quickly culminate in a supernova explosion.

Most of these explosions are generally symmetrical, with the stellar material blasting away more or less evenly in all directions. However, in the W49B supernova, material near the poles of the doomed rotating star was ejected at a much higher speed than material emanating from its equator. The remnant now glows brightly in X-rays and other wavelengths, offering the evidence for a peculiar explosion. By tracing the distribution and amounts of different elements in the stellar debris field, researchers were able to compare the Chandra data to theoretical models of how a star explodes.

A careful search of the Chandra data revealed no evidence for a neutron star. The lack of such evidence implies a black hole may have formed.

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