Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Black Hole Creation Theory In Question

Tim Sayell sends in an article from Yahoo News about a new theory that is shaking the foundation of stellar mechanics and the formation of "Black Hole" in particular.

Present wisdom has it that black holes are formed when extremely massive stars reach the end of their lives and collapse in on themselves creating super dense objects with gravity so strong that not even light can escape.

However a cluster of extremely large bright stars (some a thousand times the diameter of our sun) was discovered in the earth 60s.
  • ... in a cluster of stars known as Westerlund 1, located 16,000 light years away in the constellation of Ara, the Altar.

In amongst these massive stars was a very rare magnetar.
  • (a magnetar is) a particular kind of neutron star, formed from the explosion of a supernova, that can exert a magnetic field a million, billion times strong than Earth's.
A neutron star is like an abortive black hole. This phenomenon is also produced from a very massive star and much like the stars that produce a black hole, they end their life cycle by collapsing in on themselves. However they are not massive enough to collapse all the way to a black hole but stop at a state just as strange. When these stars collapse they create gravitational and magnetic fields so strong that atoms can no longer maintain their normal separation of electrons and proton which which crash together forming a neutron.

It is commonly held that when a star of about 10 to 25 solar masses collapses it will form a neutron star, above 25 and the collapse will not stop but continue to create the ultra dense black hole. Now here is where the really weird stuff comes in. The star that had to collapse to form the magnetar in the Westerlund 1 cluster had to have been 40 solar masses.

For those of you on the ball you have to be thinking that something isn't adding up. Somehow the star that eventually formed the Westerlund 1 magnetar had to loose almost 50% of its' mass shortly before it collapsed.

Read the rest of the Yahoo News article here

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