"Artist’s impression of the disappearing star" by ESO/L. Calçada / CC BY 4.0

A Massive Star Has Disappeared From a Distant Galaxy, And No One’s Sure Where It Went

Jul 1, 2020

By Michelle Starr

Massive stars aren’t like your car keys. They’re not going to disappear under a pile of mail on your kitchen counter, or end up in the washing machine. But a massive star that astronomers were observing for a decade now appears to be totally missing.

The star, in the very late stages of its lifespan, was shining brightly between 2001 and 2011, when different teams of astronomers were regularly observing it to obtain more information on how stars end their lives. But in observations obtained in 2019, the star’s signature was completely absent.

Then the mystery deepened. When researchers looked back through archival data from 2011 and 2016, looking for some clue as to the star’s disappearance, its light was present in the former, but missing in the latter. Somehow, after 2011, the star vanished without a trace.

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