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Fast Facts
News release ID: STScI-2017-19
Release Date: May 25, 2017
Image Use: Copyright
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Now You See it, Now You Don't: Massive Star Goes Out With a Whimper Instead of a Bang

This pair of visible-light and near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope photos shows the giant star N6946-BH1 before and after it vanished out of sight by imploding to form a black hole. The left image shows the 25 solar mass star as it looked in 2007. In 2009, the star shot up in brightness to become over 1 million times more luminous than our sun for several months. But then it seemed to vanish, as seen in the right panel image from 2015. A small amount of infrared light has been detected from where the star used to be. This radiation probably comes from debris falling onto a black hole. The black hole is located 22 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy NGC 6946.

Annotated Observations, Black Holes, Supernovae


NASA, ESA, and C. Kochanek (OSU)