Friday, 19 November 2010

SN 1979C

I have been travelling for the last week. Everywhere I went there were news about the youngest black hole ever found. I could not understand how people kept saying the black hole (if it is one) is 30 years old yet it's 50 million light years away. I found the answer in the NASA's CHANDRA X-Ray Observatory site where the original news was released.

The 30-year number is the observed value meaning that the actual age of the object is well over that and we will not know its current status until 50 million years later. It also means that the Earth has been safe from it for the last 50 million years and there is no need for a panic attack.

What the article does not reveal is in what state the object was when it was first observed in 1979 – whether it had already turned into a supernova / black hole or still a star.