Distant Black Hole Collides With a Mysterious Object
by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
Roughly 780 million years ago and a correspondingly distant 780 million light-years away, a strange stellar object was devoured by a black hole 23 times more massive than the sun. The strange object defies categorization, being more massive than any known collapsed star and less massive than any black hole ever detected, reports Dennis Overbye for the New York Times.
This places the misfit, still 2.6 times the mass of the sun, squarely in what’s called the “mass gap,” reports Rafi Letzter for Live Science. Collapsed stars, called neutron stars, have topped out at 2.14 times the mass of the sun and their generally accepted theoretical upper limit is 2.5 solar masses, according to the Times. Black holes on the other hand don’t seem to come smaller than five solar masses.
Part of the significance of this mass gap is that neutron stars and black holes each represent possible outcomes for dying high-mass stars. The deaths of such stars entail brilliant supernovae that are punctuated in a transformation of the star’s remaining hyper-dense core into either a neutron star or a black hole, wrote Jason Daley for Smithsonian in 2019. ….read more: