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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Black Hole vs. Massive Star
20 October 2010 3:09 pm
The binary system known as M33 X-7 is an odd duck indeed. Discovered in 2007, the two objects, a 16-solar-mass black hole and a 70-solar-mass blue star, fit no known mold. The black hole is too massive, the star too dim, and both circle each other too erratically. So a team of astronomers threw away the mold. They performed several hundred thousand simulations until they found out what process had created the black hole and its binary partner, both located in a galaxy some 3 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum. Four million years previously, the team reports online today in Nature, the black hole's progenitor was actually the more massive of the two, tipping the scales at 97 solar masses. But the big star fused its hydrogen and helium into heavier elements with lightning speed, expelling gigantic solar winds. The companion star lapped up gobs of that expelled material, growing quickly to its current size. When the progenitor star had no more helium to fuse, it collapsed into a black hole—which we now see is pulling matter back in from the companion star at a furious clip.
See more ScienceShots.