Science News shares an explanation for an intense puzzle that’s had astronomers searching for solutions since June 2018. Now, astrophysicist DJ Pasham and his team believe “The Cow” – a burst of light much brighter than a supernova – might have created a neutron star, or even a black hole:
The burst’s official, random designation is AT2018cow, but astronomers affectionately dubbed it the Cow. The light originated about 200 million light-years away and was 10 times as bright as an ordinary supernova, the explosion that marks the death of a massive star.
…Pasham and colleagues checked the Cow for flickering X-rays, which are typically produced close to a compact object, possibly in a disk of hot material around a black hole or on the surface of a neutron star.
Flickers in these X-rays can reveal the size of their source. The Cow’s X-rays flicker roughly every 4 milliseconds, meaning the object that produces them must be no more than 1,000 kilometers wide. Only a neutron star or a black hole fits the bill, Pasham and colleagues report December 13 in Nature Astronomy.
You can read their research here, in Nature Astronomy.