ESA: Students Spot Mysterious X-ray Source in NGC 6540

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ESA: Students Spot Mysterious X-ray Source in NGC 6540

Post by bystander » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:27 pm

Students Digging into Data Archive Spot Mysterious X-ray Source
ESA | Space Science | Science & Technology | XMM-Newton | 2018 Aug 10

An enigmatic X-ray source revealed as part of a data-mining project for high-school students shows unexplored avenues hidden in the vast archive of ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory.

When XMM-Newton was launched in 1999, most students who are finishing high school today were not even born. Yet ESA's almost two-decade old X-ray observatory has many surprises to be explored by the next generation of scientists.

A taste of new discoveries was unveiled in a recent collaboration between scientists at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Milan, Italy, and a group of twelfth-grade students from a secondary school in nearby Saronno. ...

The six students analysed about 200 X-ray sources, looking at their light curve – a graph showing the object's variability over time – and checking the scientific literature to verify whether they had been studied already.

Eventually, they identified a handful of sources exhibiting interesting properties – a powerful flare, for example – that had not been previously reported by other studies. ...

Featuring the shortest flare of all analysed objects, this source appears to be located in the globular cluster NGC 6540 – a dense grouping of stars – and had not been studied before. ...

An otherwise low-luminosity source of X-rays, XMM-Newton saw it brighten by up to 50 times its normal level in 2005, and quickly fall again after about five minutes. ...
EXTraS Discovery of a Peculiar Flaring X-ray Source in the Galactic Globular Cluster NGC 6540 - Sandro Mereghetti et al
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