Apocalypse Now: Mysterious Black Hole Discovered Near Earth Marks End of the World?

  on November 08 2012 6:15 PM

Dr. Holger Baumgardt, together with an international team of astrophysicists, provided more insight on a blinding force's long-standing enigma behind the cluster of disorderly stars rapidly swirling in the Sword of Orion. With the use of advanced computer modeling programs, the team was able to discover the visibility of these stars in the dark night sky identified as the Orion Nebula Cluster possibly held together through the controlling gravitational pull of a black hole approximately 200 times larger than the weight of the Sun.

Formed over one or two million years ago, the Orion Nebula Cluster has been acknowledged for its bizarre properties. "These properties have been a puzzle to astronomers, given all the knowledge that they have about how stars are formed and distributed," Dr. Baumgardt of UQ's School of Mathematics and Physics stated. 

The team arranged a computer model of the Orion Nebula Cluster which presented the tight cloud of inter-stellar gas including the exact combination of heavy and light stars. Then, researchers proceeded to determine the movement of these stars in the system. "In our model, we had to invent a new method of dealing with the gas and the way it is driven out from the cluster by the intensely radiating high-mass stars," Dr. Ladislav Subr, the study's lead author from Charles University in Prague, revealed.

Through the computation results, the study proved that the gas driven outwards causes the cluster to expand which further explains why most of the stars are moving rapidly. Several heavy stars were thrown out of the cluster while some were drawn right into the center of the cluster resulting to collision with the most massive star present. In the end, this massive star became unbalanced then burst inward into a black hole.

"Our scenario neatly accounts for virtually all observed properties of the Orion Nebula Cluster, that is, its low number of high-mass stars, and its rapidly-moving central stars, and suggests that the massive stars near the centre of this cluster are bound by a black hole," Dr. Subr said. 

The team claimed that the study had remarkable implications in understanding how these massive stars form and emerge from their gaseous protection. According to Pavel Kroupa, a professor at the University of Bonn in Germany, having a "massive black hole at our doorstep would be a dramatic chance for intense studies of these enigmatic objects."

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