Astronomers may have witnessed the birth of a supermassive object, likely to be either a black hole or a neutron star. While the researchers are trying to identify the exact nature, if it indeed is a black hole, it would make it the first instance in the history of humankind when the birth of a black hole was observed.
Scientists named the event AT2018cow, which was first observed as a brief and unusual flash spotted almost 6 months ago had puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists since with several theories proposed initially to explain the bursts.
The event, which has been also nicknamed “The Cow” due to the coincidental final 3 letters, lasted over three days and the explosion was 10 times brighter a supernova.
The Cow was spotted by NASA’s Asteroid Terrestial-impact Last Alert System also known as the Falling Star project, and has faded over the next couple of months since it was observed.
Scientists debate if the event was birth of a black hole or a neutron star
The astronomers who observed the event weren’t initially sure what they witnessed due to the fact that supernova event is usually not this bright.
However, the massive explosion signals towards a massive dying star that cast away its outer layer to leave behind a massive dense core which was detected by the signals received by the astronomers. However, due to the debris from the massive explosion, full view of the core is not available. In this
Scientists have narrowed down the event to either a neutron star or a black hole with more observation of its growth, rotates, etc. needed for a definite conclusion.
Rest in pieces – maybe it is a black hole that is shredding a compact star
Another possible explanation given is that the Cow is a black hole ripping apart a star in what is known as a tidal disruption event. A black hole basically pulls a star and shreds it like spaghetti due to its massive gravitational force.
Regardless, the event is significant is significant and will allow scientist to see such objects in its very nascent phase.