MIT 9 Jan 2019, 22:14 UTC On Nov. 22, 2014, astronomers spotted a rare event in the night sky: A supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy, nearly 300 million light-years from Earth, ripping apart a passing star. The event, known as a tidal disruption flare, for the black hole’s massive tidal pull that tears a star apart, created a burst of X-ray activity near the center of the galaxy. Since then, a host of observatories have trained their sights on the event, in hopes of learning more about how black holes feed. Now researchers at MIT and elsewhere have pored through data from multiple telescopes’ observations of the event, and discovered a curiously intense, stable, and periodic pulse, or signal, of X-rays, across all datasets. The signal appears to emanate from an area very close to the black hole’s event horizon — the point beyond which material is swallowed inescapably by the black hole. The signal appears to periodically brighten and fade every 131 seconds, and persists over at least 450 days. The researchers believe that whatever is emitting the periodic signal must be orbiting the black hole, just outside the event horizon, near the Innermost Stable Circular Orbit, or ISCO — the ...
MIT 9 Jan 2019, 18:00 UTC On March 11, an instrument aboard the International Space Station detected an enormous explosion of X-ray light that grew to be six times as bright as the Crab Nebula, nearly 10,000 light years away from Earth. Scientists determined the source was a black hole caught in the midst of an outburst — an extreme phase in which a black hole can spew brilliant bursts of X-ray energy as it devours an avalanche of gas and dust from a nearby star.
McDonald Observatory 9 Jan 2019, 16:02 UTC
ESA Top News 9 Jan 2019, 07:26 UTC The last component of British-built chameleon satellite, Eutelsat Quantum, is getting ready to leave home for good. The final piece of equipment is part of the new SSTL platform; the chassis that provides a payload with structure, power and the ability to propel itself through space. Representing a major first for the company, the platform weighs in at just over 1 tonne, which is an order of magnitude bigger than any other satellite they have built in the past. The new technologies aboard – the home-grown structure, momentum wheels and gyros – contribute to the platform enabling SSTL to enter the global geostationary satellite market.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey 8 Jan 2019, 18:29 UTC Today, at the 233rd AAS meeting in Seattle, astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) announce that they have developed a new tool to find otherwise-hidden galaxy mergers in data from the Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) survey of SDSS. These results show that by going beyond simple searches for merging galaxies based just on how they look, astronomers will now be able find more galaxy mergers than ever before.
HubbleSite NewsCenter -- Latest News Releases 8 Jan 2019, 18:00 UTC Rocky planets orbiting red dwarf stars may be bone dry and lifeless, according to a new study using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Water and organic compounds, essential for life as we know it, may get blown away before they can reach the surface of young planets.
Hubble Space Telescope News 7 Jan 2019, 17:00 UTC The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the most detailed image yet of a close neighbour of the Milky Way — the Triangulum Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located at a distance of only three million light-years. This panoramic survey of the third-largest galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies provides a mesmerising view of the 40 billion stars that make up one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye.
ESA Top News 7 Jan 2019, 12:13 UTC When ESA’s planned Hera mission journeys to its target binary asteroid system, it will not be alone. The spacecraft will carry two tiny CubeSats for deployment around – and eventual landing on – the Didymos asteroids. Each companion spacecraft will be small enough to fit inside a briefcase, as compared to the desk-sized Hera.