3
$\begingroup$

Looking far away means looking back in time. Stars evolve and, eventually, they die. Some of them explode as supernovae. Other than this case, when looking at the sky with telescopes, are there examples of the vanishing of the light coming from a star due to its death?

$\endgroup$
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Stars don't die suddenly. They fade to invisibility over a period of many billion years. If you class exploding as a supernova as death then we've seen loads of supernovae. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Jan 5 '16 at 8:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If we took a supernova for a star's death, as John Rennie suggests, then we would find that death is, indeed, just the beginning, and it may, for stars much heavier than the sun, open the door to an entirely new world. How poetic... physics may just have fulfilled the hopes of old religions... if not for men, then at least for some stars. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Jan 5 '16 at 8:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I guess the OP doesn't count the remnant as a star. So maybe planetary nebulae is the example s/he's looking for? $\endgroup$ – pela Jan 5 '16 at 9:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To be fair: pair instability SNe certainly do destroy the precursor star (and I think it's the doubly degenerate Type Ia model that also leads to destroyed precursors), so I think it is reasonable to say SNe is the death of a star. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '16 at 11:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Jen: How exactly do you think this is a duplicate? $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jan 6 '16 at 1:20
1
$\begingroup$

Yes, there appear to be a class of massive stars that simply vanish at the ends of their lives. It is speculated that they collapse directly into black holes.

The evidence is both indirect - for example the gravitational wave detections of $\sim 30$ solar-mass black holes that are part of binary systems is naturally explained if their massive progenitors can collapse directly into black holes, but difficult to explain if most of the mass of the progenitor is blasted into space in a supernova.

However, more direct evidence has been found by comparing pictures of galaxies over time (see below). In some cases, very bright (and presumably massive) stars have just disappeared. You can find a video, discussing this evidence here, which is based on the discovery of such an object by Adams et al. (2017).

The disappearance of a massive star

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.