Universe  ID: 10253

Scientists Watch Baby Black Hole Get to Work Fast

Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite say they have found newborn black holes, just seconds old, in a confused state of existence, sloppily gorging on material falling into them while somehow propelling other material away at great speeds. These black holes are born in massive star explosions. An initial blast obliterates the star. Yet the chaotic black hole activity appears to re-energize the explosion again and again over the course of several minutes. This is a dramatically different view of star death, one that entails multiple explosive outbursts and not just a single bang, as previously thought.

When a massive star runs out of fuel, it no longer has the energy to support its mass. The core collapses and forms a black hole. Shockwaves bounce out and obliterate the outer shells of the star. Previously scientists thought that a single explosion is followed by a graceful afterglow of the dying embers. Now, according to Swift observations, it appears that a newborn black hole in the core somehow re-energizes the explosion again and again, creating multiple bursts all within a few minutes.

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Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital): Lead Animator
Elizabeth A. Smith (HTSI): Producer
Neil Gehrels (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Dana Berry

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Astrophysics Animations

Goddard TV Tape:
G2006-007 -- Highlights from NASA's Structure and Evolution of the Universe Theme - 2005

DLESE >> Space science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Spectral/Engineering >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> Black Hole
SVS >> Gamma Ray Burst
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Universe
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Swift
SVS >> Gamma Ray Observatory
SVS >> Supernova
NASA Science >> Universe

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version