The discovery of a new stellar object has scientists speculating as to just what it is – with the prevailing theory being that it’s a supermassive black hole that was ejected from its home galaxy.
Scientists on the lookout for black holes haven’t been able to confirm any detections Blacha added, remarking that finding just one source would be a discovery of major significance.Laura Blecha
A research study into the object classified as SDSS1133 has suggested that it was jettisoned out of its place of honor by two galaxies colliding with each other. Providing a clue to this event is Markarian 117, a nearby dwarf galaxy, that shows evidence of its center having been “disturbed.”
Astronomers say that what they’re looking at is the aftermath of two small galaxies – and their central black holes – merging together, according to the University of Maryland’s Laura Blecha, co-author of the new study. Scientists on the lookout for black holes haven’t been able to confirm any detections Blacha added, remarking that finding just one source would be a discovery of major significance.
Whatever SDSS1133 is, scientists are fairly sure that the 90 million light year distant stellar object isn’t a supernova. SDSS1133 has been sighed several times over the more than half a century since it’s been spotted – but the last two years has seen the object’s brightness suddenly jump. This indicates to astronomers that it can’t be a normal supernova.
However, what SDSS1133 could be – besides a black hole – is what’s known as a luminous blue variable star. LBVs go through long eruption periods before ultimately blowing themselves up in a supernova, and the idea of discovering an LBV in the process of explosion is just as exciting to astronomers as finding an ejected black hole.
ETH Zurich astronomer Michael Koss, the lead researcher on the study, says that it’s currently impossible to distinguish one scenario from the other based on the data collected on the stellar object. With SDS1133 not changing much in ultraviolet or observable light emission for around ten years, Koss said that it’s unlikely to be a young supernova remnant.
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If it turns out that the stellar object is an LBV after all, it would mean that SDSS1133 had been in near-constant eruption from 1950 – when the phenomenon would have first been observable – to 2001, making it the longest one ever observed.
This archive content was originally published November 21, 2014 (www.betawired.com)