Imagine the Universe!

One model is a hyper-nova. At the end of it's life cycle, a massive star rapidly burns up it's fuel and falls into itself. The death scream of the falling star is the birth cry of the black hole. The result is a spectacular blast of gamma rays. Massive stars live short and brilliant lives, so they don't have time to move very far from their birth places. Scientists believe hyper-nova births will be found close to star forming regions, in the company of many other bright young stars.

A second gamma-ray burst model involves two neutron stars locked in tight orbit around each other. They slowly spiral inward, until, in a brief violent episode, they merge to form a black hole. In the billion years it takes for their orbit to decay, the pair of neutron stars can wander far from the original galaxy. If these produce the gamma-ray event, they will be found in deep, intergalactic space.

Video shows a massive stars imploading after burning up fuel, becoming a black hole with a burst of gamma rays. Second model shows artist concept of two neutron stars orbiting each other, then merging to become a black hole.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index