Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University have recently detected the formation of a new black hole. The discovery is reported in The Astronomer's Telegram and aptly dedicated it to Stephen Hawking, who extensively studied such mysterious regions in space.
One of the university's MASTER Global Robotic Net telescopes in the Canary Islands, Spain picked up an explosion of gamma rays indicating the death of a star and the birth of a new black hole.
The device also successfully determined the light curve of the gamma-ray burst, which allowed the institution's team to calculate its exact location. They noted that measurements show a similar curvature as gamma rays emitted by previous stellar explosions.
"MASTER devoted this optical discovery to Stephen Hawking, the Lord of Black Holes," states the MSU team in their report.
The event was observed in its entirety, from the beginning up to the end. This makes it a rare astronomical occasion as it happens only two to three times a year.
What Are Gamma-Ray Bursts?
Gamma-ray burst is a natural phenomenon that occurs every day in the universe. These energetic explosions occur as two neutron stars collide or as a massive star dies then transforms into a neutron star, quark star, or black hole.
Normally, this event occurs several millions or billions of light-years away but because it releases a large amount of energy, it can still be detected by specialized space telescopes such as the ones operated by the MSU.
Some of these gamma-ray bursts can last for dozens of seconds, while others happen as quickly as a few milliseconds.
"The main task of MASTER Global Robotic Net is to see the early optic emission until the burst fades down," explains MASTER Principal Investigator Vladimir Lipunov in a news release.
The MASTER Global Robotic Net System
Unlike other space telescopes, the MASTER Global Robotic Net system allows better control with the reduction of mathematical software.
In addition, it has a number of telescopes scattered in different locations. As of the present, eight units are located across Eurasia, South America, South Africa, and the Canary Islands.
Each of these locations has two instruments, a pair of telescopes with 8 square degrees field of view called the MASTER II and a pair of wide-field cameras with 800 square degrees field of view named as the MASTER VWF.
The system aims to solve the astronomical mysteries of gamma-ray bursts, dark energy, exoplanets, and dangerous asteroids. So far, it has detected novae, supernovae, orphan optical flares, comets, and exoplanets.
Known by its code name GRB 180316A, the explosion associated with the black hole dedicated to Hawking was identified by the telescope on March 16 at 4:58 a.m. U.T.