(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Black holes exhibit such an incredible gravitational pull that they suck even light in, making them essentially invisible. Astronomers have to look for clues in the space around them to locate and study black holes, and now, an X-Ray burst has revealed a new stellar-mass black hole could exist in our Milky Way galaxy.
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The black hole was discovered through NASA's Swift satellite which detected escalating bursts of X-Rays from the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
"Bright X-ray novae are so rare that they're essentially once-a-mission events and this is the first one Swift has seen," said Neil Gehrels, the mission's principal investigator, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This is really something we've been waiting for."
X-Ray nova are bright bursts of X-Rays that result when gas suddenly rushes towards either a neutron star or a black hole - two of the most dense objects in space.
NASA's Swift satellite picked up on two X-Ray bursts on the morning of September 16 and the day after using its Burst Alert Telescope.
The X-Ray nova has been named Swift J1745-26, and is located just a few degrees from the center of our galaxy in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, around 20,000 to 30,000 light-years away from our planet Earth.
"The pattern we're seeing is observed in X-ray novae where the central object is a black hole. Once the X-rays fade away, we hope to measure its mass and confirm its black hole status," said Boris Sbarufatti, an astrophysicist at Brera Observatory in Milan.
The find is exciting for astronomers, who have limited resources to study black holes due to their mysterious nature. The more, the better, and with more black hole discoveries, we can hopefully learn more about one of space and time's most enigmatic manifestations.
Read the NASA press release.