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Investigating the disappearance of a massive star in a distant galaxy

June 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A massive star has quietly disappeared in a dwarf galaxy 75 million light-years away without a telltale supernova to signal its death. It may have gone "gently into the night," said researchers.

(CNN)A massive star has quietly disappeared in a dwarf galaxy 75 million light-years away, according to a new study.

Given the lack of a visible supernova, the researchers believe the star grew dim and was obscured from view by dust or reached the end of its life and collapsed into a black hole.

"If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," said Andrew Allan, study author and doctoral student at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, in a statement.

Previously, astronomers studied and observed the star between 2001 and 2011.

Allan and his colleagues wanted to observe the star to further their research about how massive stars come to an end.

The astronomers used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile last year, but they couldn't spot the mysterious and unstable star, which is located in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy.

"Instead, we were surprised to find out that the star had disappeared!" Allan said.

A fading star

"It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion," Allan said.

The team used different instruments in hopes of detecting the star's signal, but they found nothing.

"We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night," said Jose Groh, study coauthor and director of astrophysics and tenured assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, in a statement.

Based on this data, it's possible that the outburst may have dimmed the star and obscured it from view with dust, the researchers believe.

Future telescopes, like the European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large telescope coming online in 2025, can study distant stars in more detail and provide more information about this stellar mystery.

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