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Exploding ‘cow’ was seen in space may be the first black hole birth ever seen

A look at The Cow (about 80 days after the explosion) of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Maunakea, Hawaii. The Cow is located in the CGCG 137-068 galaxy 200 million light-years from Earth. (Credit: Raffaella Margutti/Northwestern University)

Don’t have a cow, man.

Last June, an incredibly bright supernova known as “The Cow” ripped into the air, floating above the Earth for a number of weeks. While The Cow in considerable extent of the excitement for astronomers, who learned and traveled 200 million light-years away, new research suggests that the birth of a black hole or a neutron star, a first in the history of mankind.

After looking at various photos, hard X-rays and microwaves from the object officially known as AT2018cow, researchers determined that their telescopes to capture the exact moment of collapse of a star and a black hole is formed. The bright glow was caused by the debris swirling around the event horizon, amazing the researchers.

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“We think that ‘The Cow’ is the formation of an accreting black hole or neutron star,” said the north-West of the Raffaella Margutti, who led the research, in a statement. “We know from the theory that the black holes and neutron stars form when a star dies, but we have never seen them right after they are born. Never.”

The team used observational facilities in the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the MMT Observatory in Arizona, as well as remote access to the Soar telescope in Chile to look at the object’s make-up. They found that it was composed of hydrogen and helium.

The relatively clean make-up helped astronomers, Margutti added.

“A ‘light bulb’ was deep in the ejecta of the explosion,” Margutti said. “It would have been hard to see this in a normal stellar explosion. But The Cow had low ejecta mass, which allowed us to be the central motor of the radiation directly.”

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The findings were presented at the American Astronomical Society on Thursday, and the research will eventually be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The Cow disappeared as quickly as it appeared. It lost most of its energy in 16 days, despite the fact that it is an unusual slight variation – 10 to 100 times brighter than a typical supernova.

“In a universe where a number of phenomena last for millions and billions of years, two weeks is the blink of an eye,” the statement said.

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“We knew immediately that this was the source went from idle to peak brightness within a few days,” Margutti added. “That was enough to make anyone excited because it was so unusual and, by astronomical standards, it was very close to.”

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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