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A Massive Star Has Seemingly Vanished from Space With No Explanation

Published by Slashdot on Thu, 02 Jul 2020


Astronomers are perplexed by the unexplained disappearance of a massive star located 75 million light years away. From a report: A decade ago, light from this colossal star brightened its entire host galaxy, which is officially known as PHL 293B and is nicknamed the Kinman Dwarf. But when scientists checked back in on this farflung system last summer, the glow of the star -- estimated to be roughly 100 times more massive than the Sun -- had been extinguished. The head-scratching discovery was announced in a study published on Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "We were quite surprised when we couldn't find the star," said lead author Andrew Allan, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, in a call. "It is a very extreme star, and it has quite a strong wind, so we can distinguish it from the galaxy. That's what we couldn't see in the newer observations." The mysterious series of events began when Allan and his colleagues imaged the Kinman Dwarf in August 2019, using the ESPRESSO instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The team initially set out to learn more about massive stars located in galaxies with low metal densities. Given that the starlit Kinman Dwarf had been observed by other astronomers between 2001 and 2011, the team knew that it would be a good target for their research. "Not a lot is understood about stars in those kinds of environments, so that was the main reason we wanted to look," Allan said. "We are interested in massive stars at the end of their lives in those kinds of environments, so we were really just hoping to get a better resolution observation."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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