- This artist’s impression shows what the binary system VFTS 243 might look like if we were observing it up close. The system, which is located in the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, is composed of a hot, blue star with 25 times the Sun’s mass and a black hole, which is at least nine times the mass of the Sun. The sizes of the two binary components are not to scale: in reality, the blue star is about 200 000 times larger than the black hole. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada
A team of international experts, renowned for debunking several black hole discoveries, have found a stellar-mass black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbour galaxy to our own. "For the first time, our team got together to report on a black hole discovery, instead of rejecting one," says study leader Tomer Shenar. Moreover, they found that the star that gave rise to the black hole vanished without any sign of a powerful explosion...
"The star that formed the black hole in VFTS 243 appears to have collapsed entirely, with no sign of a previous explosion," explains Shenar. "Evidence for this ‘direct-collapse’ scenario has been emerging recently, but our study arguably provides one of the most direct indications. This has enormous implications for the origin of black-hole mergers in the cosmos."
This is my question. Do stellar-mass black holes always, or normally, form through direct collapse, without a preceding supernova explosion?
Could it be that core-collapse supernova explosions happen because the formation of a neutron star stops the "total collapse" of the core, and turns the energy released from the formation of the neutron star outwards? Could the newborn neutron star, together with the copious outflow of neutrinos that results from it, act as a "trampoline" for the rest of the mass of the star as it is trying to fall to its black hole doom?
The formation of a supernova is a complex affair, which has a lot to do with instabilities created in the star as a result of the collapse of the core. But maybe the formation of a neutron star is a requirement for the ensuing explosion of a core-collapse supernova?
Maybe, when nature creates a stellar-mass black hole instead of a neutron star, you don't get an explosion but a poof?