NASA's Swift satellite made the cosmic find last month when it detected a new and rapidly brightening X-ray source a few degrees from the galactic center of the Milky Way. Astronomers identified the outburst as a short-lived bright X-ray nova, which is produced when a stream of gas rushes toward either a neutron star or a black hole. Unlike a supernova, which is the explosive death of a star, novas are smaller explosions that do not completely destroy a star.
The black hole is thought to be 20,000 to 30,000 light-years away in the galaxy's inner region. Astronomers, who named the bright X-ray nova Swift J1745-26 after its coordinates in space, said witnessing such an event is rare.