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Mystery as massive star simply disappears

Posted on Tuesday, 30 June, 2020 | Comment icon 19 comments

What has happened to the star ? Image Credit: ESO / L. Calcada
Astronomers have been left scratching their heads after a huge star they were observing mysteriously vanished.
Situated 75 million light years away in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, the star is what is known as a luminous blue variable and is an incredible 2.5 million times brighter than the Sun.

It had been the subject of study for over a decade, until in 2019 when PhD student Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin and colleagues, who had been planning to make new observations using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), discovered to their surprise that the star had completely disappeared.

Astronomers speculate that the star may have collapsed into a black hole, however this is generally unheard of as such an event should have been accompanied by a supernova explosion.
"We were surprised to find out that the star had disappeared!" said Allan. "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

It is also possible that the star has transformed into a less luminous star partially hidden by dust, which would also explain why it seems to have disappeared from view.

Either way, it's a mystery that astronomers will be actively working to solve over the coming years.

"We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local universe going gently into the night," said study co-author Jose Groh.

Source: BBC News | Comments (19)

Tags: Star

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by South Alabam on 30 June, 2020, 21:38
I was just agreeing with the article:  The older observations seem to indicate that the star was experiencing giant eruptions, in which material is lost from the star. These are thought to have stopped sometime after 2011. Luminous blue variable stars such as this one are prone to such outbursts over the course of their life. They cause the star to lose mass and lead to a dramatic peak in brightness.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Trelane on 30 June, 2020, 23:09
We've lost a star? Time to head back to the Jedi temple with master Obi-Wan.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Seti42 on 30 June, 2020, 23:26
Azathoth ate it.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Hankenhunter on 1 July, 2020, 0:03
The aliens just finished up their Dyson Sphere? It could happen. .00000000001% says it's possible.    
Comment icon #14 Posted by Hankenhunter on 1 July, 2020, 0:05
Science, smience. It was aliens I tell you.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Jon the frog on 1 July, 2020, 1:13
  I'm thinking the same thing it could be hidden behind something maybe far closer.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Manwon Lender on 1 July, 2020, 1:17
So what is your opinion concerning this situation, that it was swallowed by a Black Hole without the traditional super Nova that should accompany the event? Or that the Stars  brightness is being obscured by dust like one of the Astronomers proposed. In my opinion and please don't laugh, if neither one of the events above explains it, I think that another celestial body may be blocking our view like what we call an eclipse here in our Solar System. Now, I understand if this is the case the object would have to be tremendously hugh, and with that in mind, there is no telling how long it could o... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by quiXilver on 1 July, 2020, 4:53
What we know is a drop... What we assume to know is a bucket.   What we're ignorant of... is an ocean.
Comment icon #18 Posted by jethrofloyd on 1 July, 2020, 6:04
A black hole swallowed it. First rule in the universe: Don't go too close to the black holes!.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Darkmattermonkey on 13 July, 2020, 8:54
It’s referred to as an “unnova”. A rapid conversion of a super-Hyper massive star, that avoids the nova expansion part and goes directly into a collapsed core and black hole, absorbing all (surrounding) light in the process. 

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