A massive star has just disappeared without a trace, and astronomers do not know why

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An artist’s impression of the star which has disappeared without a trace. ESO / L. Calçada

Of all the things that you expect to lose of view, a star 100 times bigger than our sun is likely not the priority. However, scientists are amazed to realize that a massive star has somehow disappeared into nothingness, seemingly without any explanation.

In a new study, published Tuesday in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers have been on a huge star, nicknamed the dwarf Kinman, in the galaxy PHL 293B, to 75 million light-years from the Earth. The team wanted to learn more about the environment of low metallicity of the PHL 293B, and expected to see the Kinman shine.

But the star had disappeared.

The star lights over the galaxy. In effect, this clarifies nothing, because it is simply … gone. Although they have been seen most recently in 2011, when the team of scientists used the instrument of ESPRESSO at the Very Large Telescope in Chile, they have not been able to find the star. With the help of an additional instrument called a X-Shooter to know where was placed the star, the team has not been able to find it.

Curiously, however, there was no evidence that the star had become a supernova, would have been able to explain his disappearance. As such, the question remains: what happened to the star?

There are two hypotheses: either the star is still there but its light is much weaker and is obscured by a cloud of debris, dusty, is the ” star collapsed into a massive black hole without producing a supernova light “.

Anyway, the implications of such an absence unexpected is of great significance – especially if you are considering if this can occur more frequently.

As the report says: “given that the majority of these events in the survey depth will be much lower than the PHL 293B, and located much further away, a detailed analysis of this object in the local Universe provides an important reference for understanding the evolution of late of massive stars in environments of low metallicity and their remains. ”

The lead author of the study, Andrew Allan, told Vice that they planned to examine the dwarf Kinman with the Hubble space telescope, in order to find evidence of the disappearance of the star monster.

“Just by comparing a before and after image of the galaxy, we hope to be able to, first of all, choose the star itself, then maybe what happened to the star and why she has disappeared,” he said.

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