Artwork: What the star might have looked like before its disappearance
Astronomers have been baffled by the disappearance of a massive star they had been observing.
They now wonder whether the distant object collapsed to form a black hole without exploding in a supernova.
If correct, it would be the first example of such a huge stellar object coming to the end of its life in this manner.
But there is another possibility, the study in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reports.
The object’s brightness might have dipped because it is partially obscured by dust.
It is located some 75 million light-years away in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, in the constellation of Aquarius.
The giant star belongs – or belonged – to a type known as a luminous blue variable;