UMCP: Astronomers Map 'Light Echoes' of Newly Discovered Black Hole

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UMCP: Astronomers Map 'Light Echoes' of Newly Discovered Black Hole

Post by bystander » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:55 pm

Astronomers Map 'Light Echoes' of Newly Discovered Black Hole
University of Maryland, College Park | 2019 Jan 09

Team led by UMD postdoctoral fellow reveals the environment around a relatively small black hole in unprecedented detail.

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A team of astronomers led by Erin Kara, the Neil Gehrels Prize Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Maryland’s Department of Astronomy, has charted the environment surrounding a relatively small, “stellar mass” black hole that is 10 times the mass of the Sun. The observations provide the clearest picture to date of how these small black holes consume matter and emit energy. ...

Using NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) payload aboard the International Space Station, the team detected X-ray light from the recently discovered black hole, called MAXI J1820+070 (J1820 for short), as it consumed material from a companion star. Waves of X-rays formed “light echoes” that reflected off the swirling gas near the black hole and revealed changes in the environment’s size and shape. ...

J1820 is located about 10,000 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Leo. The black hole’s companion star was identified in a survey by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission, which allowed researchers to estimate its distance from Earth. Astronomers were unaware of the black hole’s presence until March 11, 2018, when an outburst was spotted by the Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency’s Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI), also aboard the space station.

In just a few days, J1820 went from a totally unknown black hole to one of the brightest sources in the X-ray sky. NICER moved quickly to capture this dramatic transition and continues to follow the fading tail of the eruption. ...

Astronomers Observe Evolution of Black Hole as it Wolfs down Stellar Material
Massachusetts Institute of Technology | 2019 Jan 09

The Corona Contracts in a New Black Hole Transient ~ Erin Kara et al
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