- A supernova spotted in a nearby galaxy in 1979 appears to have produced the first ever observed baby black hole.
- This is the first time a stellar black hole (as opposed to those giant, galaxy-centered black holes) has been seen being born.
- The discovery could help sort out the fates of many other stars with masses close to the black hole threshold.
For the first time, a black hole has been seen being born out of an exploding star just 20 times the mass of our sun - right in our cosmic neighborhood.
The baby black hole is located in the M-100 galaxy, which is about 50 million light-years from Earth. This makes it far, far closer than the gamma ray blasts seen billions of light-years away at the edge of the visible universe, which are thought to be the newborn wailings of an entirely different sort of black hole - those with millions of times the mass of our sun which reside at the centers of galaxies.
"What makes this really exciting is that we know the birth date of this black hole," said astrophysicist Kimberly Weaver of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Weaver said today at a NASA press conference about the discovery. "This is a very important result to be able to pinpoint a birth date of a black hole for the first time."