Amateur Stargazer Leads NASA to Baby Black Hole

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REUTERS/Ho New

REUTERS/Ho New

Apparently Albert Einstein was wrong, black holes are not where God divided by zero!

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists believe they have witnessed the birth of a black hole. The initial evidence was observed in 1979 when an exploding star was spotted by an amateur stargazer, Gus Johnson, Maryland, 50 million light-years away. Now astronomers, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, believe that the black hole formed after this star, 20 times larger than the sun, exploded. The supernova left a hole in a number of galaxies including the Milky Way, creating a region where gravity is so great that nothing can escape, even light. (Learn more in Blowing Up the Planet With Asteroids.)

In announcing the discovery Monday at NASA headquarters, the researchers said that the information they have collected is consistent with the birth of a a baby black hole. “We’ve never known before the exact birthday of a black hole, and now we can watch as it grows into a child and teenager,” said Kimberly Weaver, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. ” “This may be the first time that the common way of making a black hole has been observed,” said co-author Abraham Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center. The birth of the black hole in real time demonstrates how our galaxy is always changing. Stars are born and die. Black holes are created, grow bigger and over time disperse. (Read more in The Supernova’s Secrets Cracked at Last.)

Although the exploded star is a seemingly vast 50 million light-years away, that is considered to be close — and even inside our neighborhood of the universe. (Check out TIME’S The End.)

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