Oadby telescope in black hole study

Posted by ap507 at Jul 02, 2015 10:45 AM |
University of Leicester facility in observations 8,000 light years away

Issued by the University of Leicester Press office on 2 July 2015

A telescope in Oadby is playing a crucial part in observing a rare astronomical phenomenon.

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.

The outburst came from V404 Cygni, a binary system located about 8,000 light-years away that contains a black hole. Every couple of decades the black hole fires up in an outburst of high-energy light, becoming an X-ray nova. Until the Swift detection, it had been slumbering since 1989.

Astronomers relish the opportunity to collect simultaneous multiwavelength data on black hole binaries, especially one as close as V404 Cygni. In 1938 and 1956, astronomers caught V404 Cygni undergoing outbursts in visible light. During its eruption in 1989, the system was observed by Ginga, an X-ray satellite operated by Japan, and instruments aboard Russia's Mir space station.

Dr Klaas Wiersema, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, said: “ I did these observations with the University telescope at Oadby, at around 1 am on 21 June. The image I made from part of the data I took at Oadby of this source shows V404 Cygni as the bright white star-like dot in the middle.

"V404 Cygni is very exciting, not only because it is very bright, but also because it shows very rapid brightness changes.

Why the brightness changes so rapidly, is not very well known. With the telescope at Oadby we studied these brightness changes on very short timescales, by taking hundreds of exposures of just 3 seconds long. "

Ongoing or planned satellite observations of the outburst involve NASA’s Swift satellite, Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, as well as Japan’s MAXI, the European Space Agency's INTEGRAL satellite, and the Italian Space Agency's AGILE gamma-ray mission. Ground-based facilities following the eruption include the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias operated by Spain in the Canary Islands, the University of Leicester's 0.5-meter telescope in Oadby, U.K., the Nasu radio telescope at Waseda University in Japan, and amateur observatories. 

FULL STORY: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-missions-monitor-a-waking-black-hole 



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