Look at This: Colorful Birthplace of Galaxy’s Youngest Black Hole

By Breanna Draxler | February 14, 2013 10:18 am

This highly distorted supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The composite image combines X-rays from Chandra (blue and green), radio data from the Very Large Array (pink), and infrared data from the Palomar Observatory (yellow). Image courtesy of NASA.

This colorful supernova remnant is called W49B, and inside it astronomers think they may have found the Milky Way’s youngest black hole. It’s only 1,000 years old, as seen from Earth, and 26,000 lightyears away.

From a vantage point on NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers observed and measured the remnant and determined it to be very unique. The supernova explosion of this massive star was not symmetrical like most, and instead of collapsing to form a telltale neutron star at its center, this supernova seems to have a black hole.

The researchers concluded that the star met an unusual demise and probably formed a black hole in the process, which they published in the Astrophysical Journal last week. At only the age of a single millenium, that would make it the youngest black hole in our galaxy.


  • Guest

    at 26,000 ly away, it has to be at least 26,000 years old for us to have viewed it

    • Breanna Draxler

      I’ll give you the win on a technicality, Guest. The supernova remnant is 1,000 years old as seen from Earth, so while it is actually 27,000 years old, the convention is to refer to its age in relation to when it was first visible from Earth.


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