Mysterious space 'Cow' explosion could be birth of black hole - CNET - Fri 11 Jan 05:50 GMT

Mysterious space 'Cow' explosion could be birth of black hole - CNET

The unusual space "Cow" continues to baffle astronomers but two new theories suggest black holes are to blame for the strange explosion.

  Lien and her team are in the white dwarf camp, believing that the flash of light detected in June occurred when a very dense, Earth-sized star was torn apart by the gravitational force of a black hole.

  Observing the ultraviolet light, radio waves and gamma rays from the Cow suggests that a black hole up to 1 million times more massive than our sun was responsible for shredding up the white dwarf.

  "Further observations of other wavelengths across the spectrum led to our interpretation that 'The Cow' is actually the formation of an accreting black hole or neutron star," Margutti said.

  But the Cow didn't produce the same amount of cosmic ejecta as is usually seen, which meant Margutti's team were able to dive in to the "engine" of the explosion and poke around.

  They discovered that it was emitting a slew of radiation and that high-energy X-rays, known as hard X-rays, revealed the Cow was likely a "compact body" such as a black hole consuming material or a neutron star, a type of failed black hole that is incredibly dense and has an extreme gravitational force.