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Astronomers believe they have witnessed the birth of a black hole

Astronomers believe they have witnessed the birth of a black hole

Black holes are thought to be the result of stars exploding - and now scientists might have witnessed it actually happen.

Black holes are some of the most feared phenomenons out in the vast expanse of space.

According to NASA, these are astronomical objects 'with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it'.

They're so fearsome - and all-engulfing - that they prove rather tricky for scientists to actually investigate.

It's thought that massive stars exploding into supernovae could leave black holes in its wake.
coffeekai / Getty

It's suspected that small black holes formed when the universe began, NASA says, while stellar black holes might be formed when a huge star collapses and causes a supernova - while supermassive black holes are thought to have been made at the same time as the galaxy they're in.

Now, scientists believe they have witnessed the birth of a black hole - which as you can probably imagine has got space fans all over the world talking.

The project began when South African amateur astronomer, Berto Monard, discovered a new object called SN 2022jli in 2022 - around 75 million light-years away.

Astronomers soon deduced this new bright object was actually a supernova - the super-powerful explosion of a dying star.

Scientists think that many black holes and neutron stars are produced as a result of stars collapsing - but it's never been actually seen before.

Using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the New Technology Telescope (NTT), two teams of scientists studied this supernova, and saw its brightness decline in an unusual way.

It oscillated in brightness, with Thomas Moore, a doctoral student at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, who led a study of the supernova published late last year in the Astrophysical Journal, saying: “In SN 2022jli’s data we see a repeating sequence of brightening and fading. This is the first time that repeated periodic oscillations, over many cycles, have been detected in a supernova light curve."

Black holes have such a strong gravitational pull, not even light can escape them.
Aaron Horowitz / Getty

The scientists believed this meant there was more than one star in the SN 2022jli system - which seems to have survived the violent death of its partner.

It looks like the companion star 'interacted with the material thrown out during the supernova explosion', a press release from the European Southern Observatory said.

While the experts weren't able to spot light coming from the companion object, 'they concluded that this energetic stealing can only be due to an unseen neutron star, or possibly a black hole, attracting matter from the companion star’s puffy atmosphere'.

So why is it such a massive discovery?

Ping Chen, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and lead author of a study published in Nature, said the research establishes a "direct link" between stars exploding into supernova and creating either a neutron star or a black hole in its wake.

Chen said: "Our research is like solving a puzzle by gathering all possible evidence. All these pieces lining up lead to the truth."

Featured Image Credit: NASA Video/YouTube