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Space & Astronomy

Mystery as massive star simply disappears

By T.K. Randall
June 30, 2020 · Comment icon 17 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 (17)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by South Alabam 4 years ago
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 #9 Posted by Trelane 4 years ago
We've lost a star? Time to head back to the Jedi temple with master Obi-Wan.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Azathoth ate it.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Hankenhunter 4 years ago
The aliens just finished up their Dyson Sphere? It could happen. .00000000001% says it's possible.    
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hankenhunter 4 years ago
Science, smience. It was aliens I tell you.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
  I'm thinking the same thing it could be hidden behind something maybe far closer.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
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 ... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by quiXilver 4 years ago
What we know is a drop... What we assume to know is a bucket.   What we're ignorant of... is an ocean.
Comment icon #16 Posted by jethrofloyd 4 years ago
A black hole swallowed it. First rule in the universe: Don't go too close to the black holes!.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Darkmattermonkey 4 years ago
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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