For the first time ever, astronomers had the rare opportunity to witness and study the birth of one of the densest objects in the known universe, i.e. a black hole or a neutron star. Although several of these strange and enigmatic objects have been observed and studied in detail, scientists have never been able to see what happens immediately after these objects are born. They are seen thousands or even millions of years after they are born. But never before when they just come into existence.
The actual observation occurred on June 17th, 2018, when observers spotted an incredibly bright flash, which reached its maximum possible brightness in just two days. It happened about 200 million light years away, which is fairly close in astronomical terms. These events happen when super-heavy stars reach the end of their lifespan and explode, shedding their outer layers which cover the dense core, preventing astronomers from getting a better look. But this one did not shed as much material and allowed astronomers to look at the dense core. The core could either be a neutron star or a black hole.
A neutron star is born when a star which is 10 to 20 times the mass of the sun dies in a supernova. But if it is any larger, the dead star becomes a black hole. Neutron stars are incredibly dense, with the more mass than the sun packed into an area of around 10 kilometers. A spoonful of it weighs billions of tons. Black holes are regions so dense that they warp the space around them to such an extent that even light can’t escape their gravitational pull.