University of Leicester leads scientists in bid to understand Universe - using X-rays

Posted by er134 at Jul 24, 2013 10:20 AM |
Leicester-led research project maps record numbers of cosmic X-ray sources
University of Leicester leads scientists in bid to understand Universe - using X-rays

Professor Mike Watson, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who leads the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre

Three years of research led by the University of Leicester has produced a new catalogue of over 500,000 detections of x-ray emissions, and over 300,000 emitters—a new record, and an unparalleled resource for scientists exploring the extremes of Universe as we know it. The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre, led by a team from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, used the University’s ‘ALICE’ supercomputer to help them produce a new X-ray catalogue, called “3XMM”.

These findings help us map some of the wildest parts of space, and some of the rarest and most extreme phenomena seen in the Universe: for instance prodigious outbursts of X-rays lead us to the tidal disruptions caused by black holes swallowing stars.  Additionally, the information allows scientists to generate large, well-defined samples of objects, such as active galactic nuclei, which includes galaxies that swirl around supermassive black holes, galactic clusters, which are gargantuan webs containing billions of stars, and stellar coronae—the huge amounts of plasma blasted out into space by stars.

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre is one of the teams behind the European Space Agency's (ESA) X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton). Since Earth's atmosphere blocks out all X-rays, only a telescope in space can detect and study celestial X-ray sources. The XMM-Newton mission is helping scientists to solve a number of cosmic mysteries, ranging from the enigmatic black holes to the origins of the Universe itself.

Share this page: