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Miniature black hole surprises astronomers: It should not exist.




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Black holes are generally the corpse of a dead star, but not all stars turn black at the end of their lives For example, our familiar sun is small Enough to avoid this fate Until recently, it was assumed that black holes were only made up of supermassive stars, and the smallest black hole known to scientists was about five times the size of the sun, a recent scientific paper has published announced the discovery of a much smaller black hole, which would require astronomers to develop their models of black hole formation Rethink, because black holes should not be so small.

So, what is the mass of a black hole? It is the size of the star for which it was made. Black holes come from big stars and like some of their Hollywood relatives, big stars live fast and die young. A high mass burns its fuel very quickly by first converting hydrogen to helium and then, when the hydrogen goes out, heating and burning helium. During the helium combustion phase, the core of the star inflates and it becomes a red giant with a radius large enough to encircle Earth's orbit. The fuel will eventually go out. (Photo by: … [+] QAI Publishing / Universal Images group via Getty Images)

Universal Images group via Getty Images

At some point, helium also goes out, and there are even heavier elements accustomed to this, the nuclear fusion of the star is driven by oxygen and then by silicon, until the star finally converts its material into iron. And when iron shows up, the star runs out of fuel and it collapses, heating up as it collapses, causing a supernova. The outer layers of the star burst into the cosmos and leave a remnant.

If the mass of the parent star is more than twenty times the mass of the Sun, a nucleus of perhaps five solar masses remains. When the nucleus is so big or larger, gravity is so strong that matter can not resist the force. It collapses and forms a black hole.

For stars four to eight times the mass of the Sun The process is similar, but the remaining nucleus is much smaller ̵

1; perhaps twice the size of the Sun. Under these circumstances, the core's gravity is lower and not strong enough to create a black hole. What remains is a so-called neutron star, in which the matter of the nucleus is packed so closely together that protons and electrons form neutrons and the neutrons have no space between them and neighboring neutrons.

For smaller stars Like our sun, the process is much less dramatic, and the result is a white dwarf, which is essentially a small and burnt-out star, a glow that glows for eons.

It's the gap between the heaviest neutron stars and the smallest black holes that are interesting to astronomers. Before this discovery, the mass of the heaviest known neutron stars was about twice the mass of the sun. And the smallest measured black hole has a mass about five to six times that of the sun. The mass range of 2 to 5 times the mass of the sun is called the mass gap.

Dr. Todd Thompson, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University and principal author of the latest study, chose to search for burnt-out stars with mass-wide mass-gap masses. He and other scientists have worked with the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), which studies the spectra of about 100,000 stars in the Milky Way.

A physical principle called the Doppler Effect states that the color of a star (indeed any object) changes slightly depending on the motion of the star. When it moves toward a telescope, it appears a little bluer, and when it moves away from the telescope it appears a little redder.

When two stars are close together, they circle a central point. In their orbit, they move alternately toward and away from the earth, causing slight color shifts. If one of the two stars is a black hole, the astronomers see a single star with rhythmically changing color.

After reviewing their data, the team found a red giant star encircled by an invisible companion in orbit. The red giant had a mass between 2.2 and 4.2 times the mass of the sun and the invisible companion a mass in the range of 2.6 to 6.1 times the mass of the sun with a maximum of 3.3 solar masses ,

The most probable mass for this invisible object lies exactly in the middle of the mass gap, although the uncertainties of measurement almost cover the area between the heaviest neutron star and the lightest black hole.

Astronomers, of course, are very interested in this mysterious heavy object. If more accurate measurements lead to a mass near 3.3 solar masses, astronomers need to rethink their models of black hole formation. And if subsequent measurements show that the mass of the invisible object is at the edges of the range specified in this measurement, it is still an example of a very heavy neutron star or a very bright black hole, but it is … by far … more likely a little black hole. Regardless of the outcome of the follow-up, this discovery will be of interest to astronomers.

While scientists know a lot about the universe and the life and death of stars, there are always surprises. That's why we're doing research. More studies like this will teach us more about the life cycle of massive stars.

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Black holes are generally the corpse of a dead star, but not all stars turn black at the end of their lives – for example, our familiar sun is small enough to avoid this fate It was recently assumed that black holes are only made up of supermassive stars, and the smallest black hole known to scientists was about five times the size of the Sun's mass a black hole much smaller than that. Here astronomers would need their models reconsider the formation of black holes, as black holes should not be so small.

So, what does the bulk of a Sch It is the size of the black hole star from which it was formed. Black h ole come from big stars and like some of their Hollywood relatives, big stars live fast and die young. A high mass burns its fuel very quickly by first converting hydrogen to helium and then, when the hydrogen goes out, heating and burning helium. During the phase of helium burning, the core of the star inflates and it becomes a red giant with a radius large enough to encircle Earth's orbit. The fuel will eventually go out. (Photo by: … [+] QAI Publishing / Universal Images group via Getty Images)

Universal Images group via Getty Images

At some point, helium also goes out, and there are even heavier elements accustomed to this, the nuclear fusion of the star is driven by oxygen and then by silicon, until the star finally converts its material into iron. And when iron shows up, the star runs out of fuel and it collapses, heating up as it collapses, causing a supernova. The outer layers of the star burst into the cosmos and leave a remnant.

If the mass of the parent star is more than twenty times the mass of the Sun, a nucleus of perhaps five solar masses remains. When the nucleus is so big or larger, gravity is so strong that matter can not resist the force. It crushes and forms a black hole.

For stars with four to eight times the mass of the Sun The process is similar, but the remaining core is much smaller – perhaps twice the size of the Sun. Under these circumstances, the core's gravity is lower and not strong enough to create a black hole. What remains is a so-called neutron star, in which the matter of the nucleus is packed so closely together that protons and electrons form neutrons and the neutrons have no space between them and neighboring neutrons.

For smaller stars Like our sun, the process is much less dramatic, and the result is a white dwarf, which is essentially a small and burnt-out star, a glow that glows for eons.

It's the gap between the heaviest neutron stars and the smallest black holes that are interesting to astronomers. Before this discovery, the mass of the heaviest known neutron stars was about twice the mass of the sun. And the smallest measured black hole has a mass about five to six times that of the sun. The mass range of 2 to 5 times the mass of the sun is called the mass gap.

Dr. Todd Thompson, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University and principal author of the latest study, chose to search for burnt-out stars with mass-wide mass-gap masses. He and other scientists have worked with the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), which studies the spectra of about 100,000 stars in the Milky Way.

A physical principle called the Doppler Effect states that the color of a star (indeed any object) changes slightly depending on the motion of the star. When it moves toward a telescope, it appears a little bluer, and when it moves away from the telescope it appears a little redder.

When two stars are close together, they circle a central point. And in their orbit, they move alternately toward and away from the earth, causing slight color shifts. If one of the two stars is a black hole, the astronomers see a single star with rhythmically changing color.

After reviewing their data, the team found a red giant star encircled by an invisible companion in orbit. The red giant had a mass between 2.2 and 4.2 times the mass of the sun and the invisible companion a mass in the range of 2.6 to 6.1 times the mass of the sun with a maximum of 3.3 solar masses ,

The most probable mass for this invisible object lies exactly in the middle of the mass gap, although the uncertainties of measurement almost cover the area between the heaviest neutron star and the lightest black hole.

Astronomers, of course, are very interested in this mysterious heavy object. If more accurate measurements lead to a mass near 3.3 solar masses, astronomers need to rethink their models of black hole formation. And if subsequent measurements show that the mass of the invisible object is at the edges of the range specified in this measurement, it is still an example of a very heavy neutron star or a very bright black hole, but it is … by far … more likely a little black hole. Regardless of the outcome of the follow-up, this discovery will be of interest to astronomers.

While scientists know a lot about the universe and the life and death of stars, there are always surprises. That's why we're doing research. More studies like this will teach us more about the life cycle of massive stars.


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