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Bright Object in Andromeda Caused by ‘Normal’ Black Hole

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Image Credit: MPE

Image Credit: MPE

A spectacularly bright object recently spotted in one of the Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxies is the result of a “normal” stellar black hole, astronomers have found.

An international team of scientists, led by Dr Matt Middleton, of Durham University, analysed the Ultraluminous X-ray Source (ULX), which was originally discovered in the Andromeda galaxy by NASA’s Chandra x-ray observatory. They publish their results in the journals Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Many ULXs are too far away for astronomers to study, but the relatively close proximity of Andromeda to the Milky Way – around 2.5 million light years – gave the team opportunity to study the phenomenon.

The researchers say their study could begin to answer the question about what causes ULXs. Some scientists believe they are caused by relatively small black holes, a few times the mass of our Sun. These black holes rapidly pull in gas and dust which forms an “accretion disc” and heats up causing the material to emit X-rays.

Full Story: http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/219-news-2012/2075-spectacularly-bright-object-in-andromeda-caused-by-normal-black-hole