The star becomes brighter and brighter before suddenly fading and disappearing. A new telescope now offers a surprising explanation.
FRANKFURT – A star 25 times more massive than our sun caught the attention of astronomers in 2009. It became as bright as several million suns, making it look as if it would explode in a supernova. Instead, its brightness decreased, until it could no longer be detected even with large telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
The mysterious disappearance of star N6946-BH1 continues to worry researchers today. The star is considered a “failed supernova,” and scientists suspect that it collapsed and became a black hole instead of exploding as a supernova. However, there has been no evidence of this yet. But now comes the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The telescope’s sharp infrared eye was directed at the area where the star had disappeared.
The James Webb Telescope makes a surprising discovery in the universe
Webb had a surprise for scientists: The star supposedly disappeared by Webb could still be seen in the infrared range – so it hadn’t completely disappeared. But the biggest surprise is something else: Webb found three infrared sources instead of just one.
In a study it was so far only available on a pre-print server arXiv Published and not yet peer-reviewed, a team of scientists wrote: “We have shown for the first time that all previous observations of BH1 (before and after the disappearance) are in fact a combination of at least three sources.”
Disappearing Star: Apparently there were three stars
This makes the theory that the missing star was a failed supernova less likely. After all, it was apparently three stars, not just one. And with the new information, there’s also a new theory that researchers are now pursuing: Was there a stellar merger in 2009? This could explain the great brightness as well as the subsequent fading.
However, the current study cannot answer whether the star merger occurred. The authors have not yet been able to completely rule out the failed supernova model, nor can they clearly prove the merger of stars.
However, researchers are sure of one thing: astronomy will still have a lot of fun with the James Webb Space Telescope. Ultimately, the telescope was able to identify the three infrared sources at a distance of 22 million light-years, something the Hubble Telescope, which was actually quite “perceptive,” had never achieved before. (unpaid bill)
Lifelong foodaholic. Professional twitter expert. Organizer. Award-winning internet geek. Coffee advocate.