facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

NASA satellite sees new black hole

Oct. 5, 2012 at 7:50 PM   |   Comments

GREENBELT, Md., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- NASA says its Swift satellite detected X-rays from close to the center of our Milky Way galaxy, evidence of a previously unknown stellar-mass black hole.

"Bright X-ray novae are so rare that they're essentially once-a-mission events and this is the first one Swift has seen," said Neil Gehrels, Swift principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The rapidly brightening source triggered Swift's Burst Alert Telescope twice on the morning of Sept. 16 and once again the next day, NASA reported.

"This is really something we've been waiting for," Gehrels said.

An X-ray nova is a short-lived X-ray source that appears suddenly, reaches its emission peak in just a few days and then fades out over a period of months, started by a torrent of gas suddenly rushing toward one of the most compact objects known, either a neutron star or a black hole.

"The pattern we're seeing is observed in X-ray novae where the central object is a black hole," said Boris Sbarufatti, an astrophysicist at Brera Observatory in Milan, Italy, currently working with other Swift team members at Penn State.

"Once the X-rays fade away, we hope to measure its mass and confirm its black hole status."

Topics: Neil Gehrels
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Study explains why ER nurses do what they do
2
Tropical storm Karina looks like the number 9 from space
3
Fish can smell a bad coral reef
4
Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats
5
Seals, sea lions likely spread tuberculosis to humans
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback