Feeds

Andromeda home to micro-quasar

Little black hole is big sucker

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory has spotted an X-ray source in Andromeda, 2.5 million light-years distant, that it’s tagged as a “micro-quasar” and says is the first discovered beyond the Milky Way.

The object, XMMU J004243.6+412519 (love the naming convention), is a black hole with an estimated mass around 10 times that of the Sun, devouring the mass of a companion star.

Its theft of mass from its companion (probably a red giant, the observatory says) gives rise to the quasar properties, with the superheated incoming material giving off X-rays and radio waves as its goodbye-cruel-universe message on the way into the gravity well.

Astrophysicists like micro-quasars, since they believe they work on the same basic properties as the black holes in the centre of galaxies, but operating on a faster (and therefore more friendly to human observation) time-scale.

The Andromeda galaxy, with faint red cross-hairs showing the location of the micro quasar

Source: NRAO, Robert Gendler

“In the smaller systems, things happen much more rapidly, giving us more data to help understand the physics at work," Matthew Middleton, of the University of Durham in the UK and the Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, leader of the research team said in this statement.

The instrument that first spotted XMMU[etcetera] was the orbiting XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, with the Swift and Chandra satellites adding eight weeks of observations back in January. Further observations were provided by the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and the Arcminute Microkelvin Imager Large Array in the United Kingdom.

In the terms of quasars, XMMU[etc] is quite small: the NRAO statement says the emitting region is around the same as the distance between the Sun and Jupiter, making it too small for even the VLBA to resolve details. However, both X-ray and radio emissions “closely parallel” the behaviour of previously-observed micro quasars. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
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
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
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
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'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.