Curated by RSF Research Staff
A Star Turned into a Black Hole Before Hubble’s Very Eyes
Throughout a star’s life it goes through many phases contracting and expanding and finally ejecting its outer layers. For stars like our Sun these ejected outer layers will expand into space forming the shape of a ring or bubble known as a planetary nebula. However, for more massive stars a supernova occurs where the ejection of the outer layers is much more dramatic and correspondingly brief. In both cases the standard theory suggests that as the star exhausts its fuel the core collapses and the outer layers of the star are ejected, leaving only a stellar remnant in the form of a white dwarf, a neutron star or a black hole.
The exact details for stellar collapse are not completely understood (further discussion on this can be found in the Resonance Academy Delegate Course - Module 3.4.4 ) and now to add a spanner in the works an anomaly has been observed which shows that instead of the stellar material being ejected, it collapses inwards. These anomalies are being dubbed 'massive fails' and although are expected to occur in a fraction of the most massive of stars have now for the first time been observed in a red supergiant – the biggest stars in the universe in terms of volume.
Future observations and analysis across wavelengths should reveal the nature of these events and thus improve our understanding of stellar collapse and its relationship with black holes and stellar formation.