Feeds

Supersized stellar blackhole prompts model rewrite

Boffins go back to the drawing board

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Researchers have located the most massive stellar black hole ever discovered, just three million light-years away in a nearby galaxy. The stellar remnant is in a binary system known as M33, orbiting a huge companion star. The researchers say the find is "intriguing", because of what it suggests about stellar evolution.

Composite visual and X-Ray image of M33-X-7

Composite visual and X-Ray image of M33-X-7.

A stellar black hole is what is left after the death-by-collapsing-core of a massive star. The star that formed this one must have been huge.

The scientists used the Chandra X-Ray observatory and the Gemini telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to measure the mass of the black hole, and discovered the remnant still has 15.7 times the mass contained in our own modest, yellow sun. Its companion star is also a humdinger - checking in at roughly 70 solar masses, it is the largest known companion star to a black hole. Eventually it too will go supernova, leaving a binary system containing only black holes.

"This discovery raises all sorts of questions about how such a big black hole could have been formed," said Jerome Orosz of San Diego State University, lead author of a paper appearing in the 18 October issue of Nature.

Conventional models of black hole formation suggest that the star would have been much larger even than its 70-solar-mass companion. It would have been so big that its radius would have been larger than the current separation between the two bodies, NASA's boffins explain.

This means the two stars must have drawn closer together while sharing a common outer atmosphere. But if this were the case, according to conventional models, the black hole shouldn't have retained such a large mass.

Still, it did, so the models are being re-thought. The researchers say the star must have lost mass roughly 10 times more slowly than they expected before it exploded.

The discovery could help explain an incredibly bright supernova, observed in 2006. The progenitor of this supernova is thought to have been about 150 solar masses when it exploded, which would make more sense if more massive stars lose their mass more slowly.

The system is also interesting because it is an eclipsing black hole. This unusual property is what allowed researchers to make "unusually accurate" estimates of the mass of both the black hole and its companion. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.