NASA’s Swift, Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have teamed up to study one of the most puzzling cosmic blasts yet observed. More than a week later, high-energy radiation continues to brighten and fade from its location. Astronomers say they have never seen anything this bright, long-lasting and variable before.
Currently, astronomers believe a star wandered too close to its own galaxies central black hole which created the unusual blast. Gas is continuing to stream toward the hole. The black hole might have formed an outflowing jet along its rotational axis. When the jet is pointed towards us you can see the X-rays and gamma rays. Research is still ongoing.
Swift’s Burst Alert Telescope discovered the source coming from Draco when it erupted on March 28th. Astronomers were informed worldwide.
An image taken by Hubble on April 4th finds the source of the explosion in the center of a galaxy that is 3.8 billion light years away.
That same day, astronomers used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to make a four-hour-long exposure of the puzzling source.
Most galaxies, including our own, contain central black holes with millions of times the sun’s mass; those in the largest galaxies can be a thousand times larger. The disrupted star probably succumbed to a black hole less massive than the Milky Way‘s, which has a mass four million times that of our sun.
Astronomers plan additional Hubble observations to see if the galaxy’s core changes brightness.
- Fun with Colliding Galaxies! (scienceblogs.com)
- Are black holes detected by the x-rays they emit (wiki.answers.com)
- Telescopes: Observing the Cosmos (techie-buzz.com)
- Weekend Diversion: Petition to Save Hubble! (scienceblogs.com)
- Astronomers may have witnessed a star torn apart by a black hole (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Black Hole Badassery Of The Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- Fresh evidence for expanding universe (cbc.ca)
- Eyes in space unraveling mysteries of the heavens (chron.com)
- NASA Feature: Evolution of the Universe (milkandcookies.com)