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Flare From Milky Way's Black Hole

nustar x-ray astronomy black holes sagittarius a* nasa

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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:53 PM

NASA's NuSTAR Spots Flare From Milky Way's Black Hole



www.nasa.gov said:

Posted Image

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured these first, focused views of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy in high-energy X-ray light. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech› Full image and caption



These are the first, focused high-energy<br />
X-ray views of the area surrounding the<br />
supermassive black hole, called<br />
Sagittarius A*, at the center of our<br />
galaxy.<br />
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech  <br />
<a href='http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/multimedia/pia16213.html' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>› Full image and caption</a>
These are the first, focused high-energy
X-ray views of the area surrounding the
supermassive black hole, called
Sagittarius A*, at the center of our
galaxy.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech  
› Full image and caption
PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's newest set of X-ray eyes in the sky, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), has caught its first look at the giant black hole parked at the center of our galaxy. The observations show the typically mild-mannered black hole during the middle of a flare-up.

"We got lucky to have captured an outburst from the black hole during our observing campaign," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. "These data will help us better understand the gentle giant at the heart of our galaxy and why it sometimes flares up for a few hours and then returns to slumber."

The new images can be seen by visiting: http://www.nasa.gov/nustar .

NuSTAR, launched June 13, is the only telescope capable of producing focused images of the highest-energy X-rays. For two days in July, the telescope teamed up with other observatories to observe Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A-star and abbreviated Sgr A*), the name astronomers give to a compact radio source at the center of the Milky Way. Observations show a massive black hole lies at this location. Participating telescopes included NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which sees lower-energy X-ray light; and the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which took infrared images.

Compared to giant black holes at the centers of other galaxies, Sgr A* is relatively quiet. Active black holes tend to gobble up stars and other fuel around them. Sgr A* is thought only to nibble or not eat at all, a process that is not fully understood. When black holes consume fuel -- whether a star, a gas cloud or, as recent Chandra observations have suggested, even an asteroid -- they erupt with extra energy.

In the case of NuSTAR, its state-of-the-art telescope is picking up X-rays emitted by consumed matter being heated up to about 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius) and originating from regions where particles are boosted very close to the speed of light. Astronomers say these NuSTAR data, when combined with the simultaneous observations taken at other wavelengths, will help them better understand the physics of how black holes snack and grow in size.

"Astronomers have long speculated that the black hole's snacking should produce copious hard X-rays, but NuSTAR is the first telescope with sufficient sensitivity to actually detect them," said NuSTAR team member Chuck Hailey of Columbia University in New York City.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., built the spacecraft. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California (UC) Berkeley; Columbia University; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.; and ATK Aerospace Systems of Goleta, Calif.

NuSTAR's mission operations center is at UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing an equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission's outreach program is based at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. Goddard manages NASA's Explorer Program. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov .    


Alan Buis 818-354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
NASA Headquarters, Washington
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

2012-333



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#2    Collateral Damage

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 02:28 AM

Amazing.

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#3    ranrod

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 06:10 PM

The article was written awkwardly.  It's not a "flare up" of a black hole.  It's not like a burp after a spicy meal.  They emit nothing but theoretical hawking radiation not visible in x-ray.  Anything 'eaten' becomes invisible.  The flare may be the product of the death of some kind of star as it gets destroyed by the black hole or a gas cloud that 'explodes' under the right conditions circling the black hole at high speeds.  Never an asteroid (unless it's made of liquid hydrogen).


#4    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 06:34 PM

View Postranrod, on 27 October 2012 - 06:10 PM, said:

Never an asteroid (unless it's made of liquid hydrogen).
You didn't read this article then: NASA's Chandra Finds Milky Way's Black Hole Grazing on Asteroids

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#5    ranrod

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:48 PM

View PostWaspie_Dwarf, on 27 October 2012 - 06:34 PM, said:

Amazing precision on those instruments!  I was skeptical about a single asteroid vaporizing by the gravity of a black hole being visible from Earth.  It must be a lot of them being gobbled up at once to create a flare visible from here, or maybe a big enough asteroid would do it?


#6    Mike D boy

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:01 AM

Thanx for sharing, waspie dwarf. Let's hope our solar system isn't in the way of being gobbled up into a "flare" in our lifetimes. :whistle:

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