Have Astronomers Seen the Birth of a Black Hole?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An exploding star spotted 30 years ago in a nearby galaxy appears to be a newborn black hole, astronomers reported on Monday.

X-ray observations suggest the supernova, called SN 1979C, is a black hole in the making, a team of U.S. and European astronomers said.

“If our interpretation is correct, this is the nearest example where the birth of a black hole has been observed,” Daniel Patnaude of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, who helped lead the study, said in a statement.

Amateur astronomer Gus Johnson of Maryland spotted the supernova in 1979 at the edge of a galaxy called M100 and astronomers have been peering at it since. Light and X-rays from the collapse have taken 50 million years to travel to Earth at the speed of light — 186,000 miles a second, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km) a year.

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