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Creation of Black Hole Detected Today
Posted on Monday, May 09, 2005 @ 22:23:17 GMT by vlad

Science By Robert Roy Britt/ Senior Science Writer/ posted: 09 May 2005/ 12:52 pm ET

Astronomers photographed a cosmic event this morning which they believe is the birth of a black hole, SPACE.com has learned.

A faint visible-light flash moments after a high-energy gamma-ray burst likely heralds the merger of two dense neutron stars to create a relatively low-mass black hole, said Neil Gehrels of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It is the first time an optical counterpart to a very short-duration gamma-ray burst has ever been detected.

Gamma rays are the most energetic form of radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum, which also includes X-rays, light and radio waves.

The merger occurred 2.2 billion light-years away, so it actually took place 2.2 billion years ago and the light just reached Earth this morning.

Quick global effort

Gehrels said the burst occurred just after midnight East Coast time. It was detected by NASA's orbiting Swift telescope. Swift automatically repositioned itself within 50 seconds to image the same patch of sky in X-rays. It just barely caught an X-ray afterglow, Gehrels said in a telephone interview.

The X-ray counterpart was barely detectable and only observed for a few minutes.

An email was sent out to astronomers worldwide, and large observatories then tracked to the location and spotted a faint visible-light afterglow...

Read the whole article here: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050509_blackhole_birth.html

 
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