NASA Spots Nearby 'Young' Black Hole

Could it be a gateway to another universe?

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2013 12:12 PM CST

(Newser) – NASA has spotted what appears to be the galaxy's newest black hole—and it's relatively nearby. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has spotted the aftermath of a super nova that, from Earth's vantage point, is just 1,000 years old, the agency reports. (Of course, it's 26,000 light years away, which, the LA Times explains, means the explosion actually happened 27,000 years ago, but it's the thousand-year-old version we're seeing on Earth.) And while it's not definite, evidence suggests the nova formed a black hole.

While 26,000 light years might sound like a lot, it's pretty close in interstellar terms, and NASA intends to make the most of the opportunity to study it. What's more, the phenomenon, dubbed W49B, is a really weird supernova. The star appears to have ejected high-speed jets of material from its poles into space. "W49B is the first of its kind to be discovered in the galaxy," says one MIT researcher. "It appears its parent star ended its life in a way that most others don't."

This image from NASA shows Supernova remnant W49B.
This image from NASA shows Supernova remnant W49B.   (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA)
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