February 25, 2024

Mysterious: the largest neutron star or the smallest black hole?

After surviving the supernova explosion at the end of its evolution, the core of the massive star ends up as either a neutron star or a black hole. Curiously, there is a gap in the mass distribution of these compact objects: the neutron stars observed so far have a maximum mass of 2.2 solar masses, while the smallest black holes, the least massive, start out at only three solar masses. Now researchers led by Euan Parr of Max Planck Radio Astronomy have found a compact object, with a mass of about 2.35 solar masses, that fits perfectly into this gap. This discovery is either the lowest mass black hole ever discovered, or the most massive neutron star. However, the researchers write In “Science” magazineThey cannot distinguish between these two variables.