Suzaku Catches Retreat of a Black Hole’s Disk


GX 339-4, illustrated here, is among the most dynamic binaries in the sky, with four major outbursts in the past seven years.

Studies of one of the galaxy’s most active black-hole binaries reveal a dramatic change that will help scientists better understand how these systems expel fast-moving particle jets.

Continue reading… “Suzaku Catches Retreat of a Black Hole’s Disk”


Nasa’s Fermi Telescope Peers Deep Into a ‘Micro-Quasar’


n Cygnus X-3, an accretion disk surrounding a black hole or neutron star orbits close to a hot, massive star.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has made the first unambiguous detection of high-energy gamma-rays from an enigmatic binary system known as Cygnus X-3. The system pairs a hot, massive star with a compact object — either a neutron star or a black hole — that blasts twin radio-emitting jets of matter into space at more than half the speed of light.

Continue reading… “Nasa’s Fermi Telescope Peers Deep Into a ‘Micro-Quasar’”


Middleweight Black Hole: Swift, XMM-Newton Satellites Tune Into X-ray Source


Swift X-ray observations of galaxy NGC 5408 indicate its ultraluminous X-ray source undergoes periodic changes every 115.5 days.

While astronomers have studied lightweight and heavyweight black holes for decades, the evidence for black holes with intermediate masses has been much harder to come by. Now, astronomers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., find that an X-ray source in galaxy NGC 5408 represents one of the best cases for a middleweight black hole to date.

Continue reading… “Middleweight Black Hole: Swift, XMM-Newton Satellites Tune Into X-ray Source”


Carbon Atmosphere Discovered On Neutron Star


New evidence from Chandra suggests that the neutron star at the center of the Cas A supernova remnant has an ultra-thin carbon atmosphere.

Evidence for a thin veil of carbon has been found on the neutron star in the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. This discovery, made with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, resolves a ten-year mystery surrounding this object.

Continue reading… “Carbon Atmosphere Discovered On Neutron Star”


NASA’s Fermi Telescope Detects Gamma Rays From ‘Star Factories’ In Other Galaxies


Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) shows that an intense star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud named 30 Doradus is also a source of diffuse gamma rays.

Nearby galaxies undergoing a furious pace of star formation also emit lots of gamma rays, say astronomers using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Two so-called “starburst” galaxies, plus a satellite of our own Milky Way galaxy, represent a new category of gamma-ray-emitting objects detected both by Fermi and ground-based observatories.

Continue reading… “NASA’s Fermi Telescope Detects Gamma Rays From ‘Star Factories’ In Other Galaxies”


NASA’s Spitzer Spots Clump Of Swirling Planetary Material


This artist’s conception shows a lump of material in a swirling, planet-forming disk.

Astronomers have witnessed odd behavior around a young star. Something, perhaps another star or a planet, appears to be pushing a clump of planet-forming material around. The observations, made with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, offer a rare look into the early stages of planet formation.

Continue reading… “NASA’s Spitzer Spots Clump Of Swirling Planetary Material”


Invading Black Holes Explain Cosmic Flashes


Artist’s concept: In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a
beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole.

Black holes are invading stars, providing a radical explanation to bright flashes in the universe that are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy today. Continue reading… “Invading Black Holes Explain Cosmic Flashes”


Sophisticated Telescope Camera Debuts With Peek At Nest Of Black Holes


This is a near-infrared image of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the largest satellite galaxy circling the Milky Way.

Less than two months after they inaugurated the world’s largest telescope, University of Florida astronomers have used one of the world’s most advanced telescopic instruments to gather images of the heavens. Continue reading… “Sophisticated Telescope Camera Debuts With Peek At Nest Of Black Holes”


First Solid Evidence For A Rocky Exoplanet: Mass And Density Of Smallest Exoplanet Finally Measured


This planet has a mass five times that of Earth’s and is in fact the closest known exoplanet to its host star, which also makes it the fastest; it orbits its star at a speed of more than 750,000 kilometers per hour.

The longest set of HARPS measurements ever made has firmly established the nature of the smallest and fastest-orbiting exoplanet known, CoRoT-7b, revealing its mass as five times that of Earth’s. Combined with CoRoT-7b’s known radius, which is less than twice that of our terrestrial home, this tells us that the exoplanet’s density is quite similar to the Earth’s, suggesting a solid, rocky world. The extensive dataset also reveals the presence of another so-called super-Earth in this alien solar system.

Continue reading… “First Solid Evidence For A Rocky Exoplanet: Mass And Density Of Smallest Exoplanet Finally Measured”


Astrophysics: High Energy Galactic Particle Accelerator Located


The Messier 87 galaxy.

An unprecedented measuring campaign has succeeded in precisely defining the place of origin of high-energy gamma radiation in the galaxy Messier 87. This radiation can only be produced by accelerating elementary particles to very high energies in enormous cosmic objects. Now the underlying extreme physical processes and inherent implications can be investigated in more detail.

Continue reading… “Astrophysics: High Energy Galactic Particle Accelerator Located”


Celestial Rosetta Stone: White Dwarf Star, Circling Companion Star, Could Explode In A Few Million Years


Illustration of the white dwarf and its companion HD49798. If it was possible to look at the system up-close, it would look something like this.

ESA’s XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray telescope has uncovered a celestial Rosetta stone: the first close-up of a white dwarf star, circling a companion star, that could explode into a particular kind of supernova in a few million years. These supernovae are used as beacons to measure cosmic distances and ultimately understand the expansion of our Universe.

Continue reading… “Celestial Rosetta Stone: White Dwarf Star, Circling Companion Star, Could Explode In A Few Million Years”


Trifid Nebula: A Massive Star Factory


The massive star factory known as the Trifid Nebula was captured in all its glory with the Wide-Field Imager camera

A new image of the Trifid Nebula, shows just why it is a firm favorite of astronomers, amateur and professional alike. This massive star factory is so named for the dark dust bands that trisect its glowing heart, and is a rare combination of three nebula types, revealing the fury of freshly formed stars and presaging more star birth.

Continue reading… “Trifid Nebula: A Massive Star Factory”