Youngest Milky Way black hole studied

Feb. 13, 2013 at 4:25 PM

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A rare type of cosmic explosion may have created the youngest black hole yet discovered in our Milky Way galaxy, U.S. astronomers say.

A highly distorted supernova remnant called W49B is only about a thousand years old as seen from Earth, they said.

It has caught the attention of astronomers because of its shape; supernova explosions that destroy massive stars are generally symmetrical, with material blasting away more or less evenly in all directions.

However, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows W49B's exploding star shot more material out from its poles than from its equator, a NASA release reported Wednesday.

And whereas most of the time massive stars that collapse into supernovas leave a dense spinning core called a neutron star, the Chandra observations revealed no evidence for a such a star, suggesting an even more exotic object -- a black hole --might have formed in the explosion, astronomers said.

A study of W49B has been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Some scientists want race removed from genetics research
Expedition finds lost lion population in Ethiopia
Scientists identify butterfly-like insect from the Jurassic age
Taser's effect on cognition may undermine police questioning
Study: Neanderthals' extinction blamed on lost culture war