Astronomers Let’s say a massive star appears to have mysteriously disappeared from a distant galaxy.
The star is part of the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, also known as PHL 293B. The galaxy is approximately 75 million light years from Earth. It is located in the constellation Aquarius. A constellation is “a group of stars that forms a especially Shape in the sky, ”says the US space agency NASA.
Images of the Kinman dwarf galaxy have been taken in the past with a camera attached to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. However, since the galaxy is so far away, the researchers were unable to clearly observe its individual stars.
However, astronomers had identified important “signatures”
A team of scientists from the European Southern Observatory reported that they had been observing the star with their Very Large Telescope (VLT) for at least 10 years. The Chile-based observatory offers astronomical support to European countries.
The team said its observations repeatedly showed evidence that the Kinman dwarf galaxy contained the massive star, which is estimated to be 2.5 million times brighter than our sun.
The researchers said the evidence indicated that the star was “at a late stage in its formation evolution. ”They added that the star is a type that is called“unstable. ”This means that it can go through large changes in brightness or lose part of its mass.
Project leader was Andrew Allan, PhD student in astrophysics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He led a study of the results that was recently published in Monthly communications from the Royal Astronomical Society.
Allan said the researchers wanted to learn more about how massive stars end their lives. The massive object observed in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy appeared to be the perfect target.
When the astronomers turned the Very Large Telescope towards the distant galaxy in 2019, they could no longer find any signatures for the massive star. “Instead, we were surprised that the star was gone,” Allan said in a statement.
Similar stars that experience major changes usually produce some signatures. So the team tried several times to search with different devices but still found no signs of the star.
“It would be very unusual for such a massive star to disappear without causing a bright supernova explosion,” said Allan.
NASA describes a supernova as “an extremely bright, superpowerful explosion of a star”. A supernova takes place at the end of a star’s life.
The astronomers are now investigating two options. The first is that the star may have become less bright and could be partially blocked by dust. The other possibility is that it collapsed into a black hole without producing a supernova.
If the star fell into a black hole, it would be a highly unusual ending, the researchers said. “This would be a rare occurrence: Our current understanding of how massive stars die indicates that most of them end their lives in a supernova,” said a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Trinity professor Jose Groh, another project leader, said astronomers plan to continue observing the galaxy for signs of the mysterious missing star.
“We’ll probably have to wait a few years before we confirm what Fate happened this particular star. We’ll be observing the galaxy again next year with the Hubble Space Telescope, which will deliver new ones Hints“Said Groh.
ESO is also planning to launch observation equipment and expects its extremely large telescope to be operational by 2025.
This telescope should “be capable solution Stars in distant galaxies like the Kinman dwarf, ”the statement said. The new equipment could also help astronomers solve the secrets of the future.
I am Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports from the European Southern Observatory and Trinity College Dublin and NASA. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in this story
astronomer – n. a scientist studying stars and planets
especially – – adj. used to describe a specific part of something
evolution – n. a gradual process of change and development
unstable – – adj. probably change or end suddenly
fate – – n. What happens to something, especially something bad?
happened – v. happen
Note – – n. Information to help you solve a problem or answer questions
determination – – v. to solve or end a problem or difficulty