back to article Brand-new black hole found in supernova remnant

NASA has released images from the Chandra X-Ray observatory which appear to show a distorted supernova remnant harbouring the youngest black hole ever observed. Careful with the dates: NASA says it’s a thousand years old as seen from Earth - which means something slightly different to “it happened in 1013”. The remnant, W49B, …


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  1. JassMan

    Not that careful with the dates

    If it is 26000 LY away, and the event "appears" to have happened 1000 years ago, then surely the actual event was 24087 BC. If it happend in 1013 as stated in the artical (unless someone edits it), we are not going to get the picture shown for another 25K years.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Not that careful with the dates

      It is standard when discussing astrophysics to refer to phenomena not by when they occurred in their local timeframe, but when they can be observed by us here on earth. Maybe if we get off this mudball we can care about changing that particular point of conversational nitpickery, but it is a lot easier (for a number of reasons) to keep the temporal context fixed to the observer, not the observed.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Not that careful with the dates

        Another point here. Using that point of reference (a thousand years old as seen from Earth), it did indeed occur in 1013 as seen from Earth.

        The warning in the article actually serves to confuse more than enlighten, as it's only correct if you mix your temporal reference points.

    2. Joe Cooper

      Re: Not that careful with the dates

      I'd like to add, while the entity in question might be 26k years old, the delay means we are _looking_ at a 1k-year-old object. If you study it what we can see, than you are studying a 1k year old black hole. For all practical purposes, it might as well be a one thousand year old remnant, and we all know how this time thing works, so it's okay to call it as we see it.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Not that careful with the dates

        Additionally, as there is no "universal t" and the time at which events apparently happen can differ significantly depending on the observers' reference frame for events "distant enough" (several thousand years for local observers moving at relative velocity of pedestrians when one considers what happened in the Andromeda Galaxy for example), it makes sense to enumerate things by the moment their light arrived "here".

  2. Jdoe1

    Obviously W49B didn't contain enough lithium.

  3. Charles Manning

    Got to be careful....

    Remember that many of the people who vote on their funding think the universe is only 4k or whatever years old. Don't want to say 26k and piss in the feeding trough.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God done it!

    He just made it look old.


  5. Captain DaFt
    Thumb Up


    Now, when will they find one with an Alderaan ring?

    1. Wize

      Re: Cool!

      I wonder if there will be a flame war with some calling it a Praxis ring.

  6. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Oooohh, look at the nice Space Jellyfish. Obviously this was created by the Creator as nothing this complex could happen unless it was planned and pre-ordained. Perhaps that is the problem all these Creationists have with the world,... they can't handle the fact that some things are not and probably never will be controllable, so they invent a "higher power" who can control it. Religion as a psychosis?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Jellyfish

      Oh look it's the evangelical Atheists. Stop forcing your beliefs on me!

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: Jellyfish

      The Space Jellyfish..... what's wrong with you , is the invisible pink unicorn or the FSM not good enough for you

  7. Cipher

    "Careful with the dates: NASA says it’s a thousand years old as seen from Earth - which means something slightly different to “it happened in 1013”. "

    A better explanation is in order here. If it is 26k LY from us, then what we are seeing is 26K years old. If it is 1000 years old as seen from earth, then it is 1k LY from us. Unless the speed of light doesn't apply here...

    Poorly written article...

    1. I think so I am?

      its like a stream and all relative

      If you look at your hand (or anything), you are actually seeing what it looked like moments before. At no point ever are you from the observer point of view ever seeing your hand in its relative present time.

      Due to the speed of light and the relative small distances we perceive most of what we see, hear or feel as the present when in fact we are observing the past. It only becomes noticeable over large distances ; time delay on long distance calls and video.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I see what you are saying but that is not what NASA they are trying to express in the article. They are saying we are looking at the 'event' at T+1000years - i.e. what it looked like 1000 years after the event (even though the even happened a long time, 26000 years, ago). It is, in effect, equivalent to a 26000 year old image of a 1000 year old event. The important thing from NASA's perspective is the 1000 years, not the 26K, in this instant. If the age of the event was news worthy then they would concentrate on that.

      It is like looking at a fossil of a 3year old dinosaur. If the 'news worthy' element was how long ago the dinosaur lived, then '500 million year old dinosaur found' would be the headline - but if the 'news worthy' element was the fact that the bones were of an immature dinosaur, then they could concentrate on that, and the headlines would be 'fossil of 3 year old dinosaur found'. The important information that is being disseminated is that 'this is what the skeleton of a 3 year old dinosaur' looks like. The fact that the dinosaur is millions of years old is not relevant in this instant, although the article would then go on to say that the dinosaur lived 100's of millions of years ago.

      The important thing in this image is that is it what the supernova looked like 1000 years after the '1000 year old' event.

  8. Tom 7

    Why does there have to be anything left

    cant some stars just blow themselves completely apart?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Why does there have to be anything left

      Even if it blew everything into a cloud of individual electrons, protons, etc, that would still be 'something'. Even a 100% total matter->energy conversion would leave behind all that light and x-rays and stuff.

      Define "anything"?

      1. Tom 7

        Re: Why does there have to be anything left

        Well why couldn’t it be the planetary nebula that’s visible at the moment?

        I'm not saying complete conversion just that there is NO requirement for anything to be left where the star was - it starts to blow and everything moves outward. If there is not enough compression to cause a neutron star due to some imbalance then what may be left after the outer shell is blown of may just boil away or be flung out on the magnetic fields, or simply be blasted away by the force of the detonation, which would have to be pretty uniform to make a neutron star let alone a black hole - these things seem to be formed by binary systems so we haven’t got a good focus for that sort of thing especially if the two members are similar sizes - you’d get a detonation starting inside of either of the stars and nothing to compress as such.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Why does there have to be anything left

          Thought experiment - take an onion and consider what happens if one of the layers explodes.

          Some onion is under the layer, some above. So some material is forced inwards, which the rest outwards.

          Then consider gravity which pulls it all back together - the explosion must be big enough to push all the material faster than the star's escape velocity.

          Therefore, to move everything away, the star-shattering kaboom has to be extremely asymmetrical.

          Not very likely.

      2. Julz

        Re: Why does there have to be anything left

        Stuff can neither be created nor destroyed; all you do is change the form.

        1. CCCP

          Re: Why does there have to be anything left


          Well, except in weird on a stick quantum land, where stuff pop around to say hello out of nowhere. However, like a well behaved progressive 70s party, where you move from house to house, they also leave. Apparently.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why does there have to be anything left

      "cant some stars just blow themselves completely apart?"

      There's such a thing as a "pair instability" supernova, as it turns out. These can actually generate enough energy to explode the entire star without causing the sort of core collapse that leaves some kind of dense supernova remnant. Whether these things are well enough understood to be ruled out in this case or not I dunno... I Am Not An Astrophysicist, but the chain of events that leads up to such a supernova is a slightly unusual one, and I rather suspect that analysis of the expanding debris cloud could rule it out.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I do not understand why people downvoted the question, it is a perfectly legitimate one for a person who does not have the knowledge of how a star works and how it dies.

    I am not an astronomer either, but I have always been interested in how the universe functions and our understanding of it.

    Therefor, I can safely say that a star's life is based on two things : the incredibly high pressures (generated by all that mass pushing down on the core) that make thermonuclear fusion possible, and the resultant fusion energy that, in effect, pushes away that mass and prevents gravity from collapsing it all into a black hole.

    A star is thus perpetually walking a tightrope between collapsing in on itself and blowing its mass away. Stable stars, such as our Sun, have found a balance. That balance can last billions of years (generally the case for yellow dwarfs, of which our Sun is part), or only a few million (the case of humongously gigantic stars that end up as supernovas), but in the end, it always ends badly, though not always spectacularly.

    Our Sun is most likely going to go the red giant path, bloating itself until its volume encompasses the orbit of our very own planet, then, at the very end, go nova by shedding the outer layers, leaving a small dwarf remnant that will radiate for eons upon eons until it just cools down.

    A supernova, on the other hand, will not shed its outer layers, it will expel them violently. However, in most cases, the core remains. And, without the mass of the external layers to ensure the necessary pressure that allows for continuous thermonuclear reaction, the intense gravitational attraction of all that mass will win over the diminishing thermonuclear reaction that subsists, and it will collapse upon itself, creating the black hole of legend.

    It is, in any case, a truly fascinating subject, and I can only encourage one and all to read up about it on the very many Internet sites that deal with the subject.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dark side

    The gravity from black holes acts spherically, and would not produce bipolar jets. On the other hand, electromagnetic forces are known to produce constricted flows (eg. jets), and only requires the plasma in the system to rotate (not dissimilar to the Earth's plasma fountain).

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