U.K. Astronomers Find New Type of Star

LONDON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — British astronomers say the discovery of a rare magnetic star, dubbed a magnetar, challenges widely accepted theories about the origin of black holes.

Magnetars are a special type of neutron star with a powerful magnetic field formed by gravitational collapse after the original or progenitor star explodes in a catastrophic supernova, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Astronomers at Britain’s Open University calculate the mass of the progenitor of the newly discovered magnetar was at least 40 times greater than that of our sun.

Current theory says collapsing stars of this size should always form a black hole.

The fact that this one resulted in a neutron star instead challenges established theory, scientists say.

Researchers in the magnetar study said the mystery of the missing black hole might be explained if the progenitor star got rid “of nine tenths of its mass before exploding as a supernova.”

This could have happened if the progenitor was part of cosmic double-act known as a “binary star” and its companion pulled off some of its mass, they said.

This would have allowed it to avoid becoming a black hole.

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