Chandra data reveal a ring of bright X-ray sources encircling the galaxy, which are thought to contain either black holes or neutron stars. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/A. Wolter et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to discover a ring of black holes or neutron stars in a galaxy 300 million light years from Earth. This ring, while not wielding power over Middle Earth, may help scientists better understand what happens when galaxies smash into one another in catastrophic impacts.
In the new composite image shown above of the galaxy AM 0644-741 (AM 0644 for short), X-rays from Chandra (purple) have been combined with optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, and blue). The Chandra data reveal the presence of very bright X-ray sources, most likely binary systems powered by either a stellar-mass black hole or neutron star, in a remarkable ring. The results are reported in a new paper led by Anna Wolter from INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera in Milano, Italy.
Where did the ring of black holes or neutron stars in AM 0644 come from? Astronomers think that it was created when one galaxy was pulled into another galaxy by the force of ...