Feeds

Andromeda galaxy home to ten black holes

Massive neutron stars could be sun-sucking monsters

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Astronomers have discovered ten possible black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy after scanning the area for a particular X-ray emission signature peculiar to the phenomenon.

Joint research teams at the Open University and the University of Leicester made the discoveries using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray observatory to examine double star systems known as low mass X-ray binaries (LMXB).

These LMXB systems consist of a neutron star paired with a star similar to our own. The dense neutron star sucks in material from its neighbouring star, causing a huge heating effect and X-ray emissions.

The astronomers examine these emissions for clues about the mass of the neutron star. If it is sufficiently massive, it will collapse in on itself to form a black hole. The rate at which material spirals into the neutron star - coupled to the the system's luminosity - can provide evidence of this. If the neutron star is more than three times as massive as our sun, it is likely to be a black hole.

Dr Barnard, who led the research at the Open University commented: "Black holes are elusive beasts. We can never see them directly, only the effects they have on the stars and gas around them. But if black holes exist, the ten X-ray sources we have singled out are very likely black holes."

The new detection technique has allowed astronomers to identify these Andromedan black hole candidates in a very short time period: just 18 months. Searches for potential black holes in our own galaxy have turned up ten candidates too, but these were identified over several decades, rather than months. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.