When Stars Go Gently Into That Sweet Night

For the first time in history, astronomers have been able to watch as a dying star was reborn as a black hole. The star, which was 25 times as massive as our sun, should have exploded in a very bright supernova. Instead it un-spectacularly became a black hole.

Quietly dying stars like this one in a nearby galaxy could explain why astronomers rarely see supernovae from the most massive stars, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.

As many as 30 percent of such stars, it seems, may quietly collapse into black holes with going super nova.

He leads a team of astronomers who have been using the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) to look for failed supernovae in other galaxies. They published their latest results in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at the star’s location to see if it was still there but merely dimmed. They also used the Spitzer Space Telescope to search for any infrared radiation emanating from the spot. That would have been a sign that the star was still present, but perhaps just hidden behind a dust cloud.

All the tests came up negative. The star was no longer there. By a careful process of elimination, the researchers eventually concluded that the star must have become a black hole.

Ohio State Earns Gold STARS

The Ohio State University achieved a Gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). In 2012, Ohio State elected to participate in the STARS program for the first time, earning a Silver rating for the Columbus campus. Ohio State’s regional campuses followed suit by achieving Silver ratings in 2013.

The university received high marks by achieving a perfect score in campus engagement and sustainability planning and governance, as well as for its innovation efforts. This aligns with Ohio State’s continued efforts to advance sustainability across campus and throughout the community, including strategic sustainability goals developed by faculty, staff and students that are designed to enhance and expand policies, operations and practices.

Ohio State’s 2016 Gold rating places the university among the top tier of national and international colleges and universities, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS is a framework developed to measure sustainability performance in academics, planning and administration, outreach and engagement, innovation and operations. Today, more than 760 national and international institutions use the STARS reporting tool, and more than 275 currently have a STARS rating.