X-ray telescope sees glow of black holes

Jan. 11, 2013 at 4:19 PM

LONG BEACH, Calif., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- NASA says its NuSTAR space telescope turned its X-ray eyes on a distant galaxy and captured an image of the brilliant glow of two black holes inside.

The image was released at the American Astronomical Society meeting this week in Long Beach, Calif.

Launched last June, NuSTAR is the first orbiting telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-ray light, NASA said.

"These new images showcase why NuSTAR is giving us an unprecedented look at the cosmos," said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington. "With NuSTAR's greater sensitivity and imaging capability, we're getting a wealth of new information on a wide array of cosmic phenomena in the high-energy X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum."

The orbiting X-ray telescope targeted the spiral galaxy IC342, 7 million light years away, to reveal the presence of two high-energy black holes, called ultraluminous X-ray sources.

In the image, the two bright spots that appear entangled in the arms of the IC342 galaxy are the black holes.

High-energy X-ray light has been translated into the color magenta, while the galaxy itself is shown in visible light, NASA said.

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