This stunningly trippy object is W49B, a supernova remnant 26,000 light-years away from Earth. It’s just a 1000 years old, which in cosmological terms is not even a heartbeat in the life of a human. It may also be the birth place of a newborn black hole, the youngest ever detected in the galaxy.
Scientists created the image using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue and green), radio data from the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (pink), and infrared data from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory (yellow). And they are a bit puzzled about it, trying to know how this has formed. According to their study, is barrel shape in “X-rays and several other wavelengths point to an unusual demise for this star.”
The supernova is highly distorted, with material “near the poles of the doomed rotating star was ejected at a much higher speed than material emanating from its equator”. Usually, supernova explosions are symmetrical, like this one below, called SN1006:
Obviously, W49B is nothing like this. So what is deforming the supernova remnant in this way. Usually, stars that go supernovas turn into heavily dense neutron stars. But this time, after closely examining it, scientists found no evidence of such a star. And that’s how they believe we are looking at the moment of the formation of a black hole. [NASA Marshall Space Center via NASA]