Black Hole Bonanza in Andromeda Galaxy (NASA, Chandra, 06/12/13)

Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
Information from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have been utilized to discover 26 black hole candidates in the Milky Way’s galactic neighbor, Andromeda. This is the largest quantity of attainable black holes discovered in a galaxy outdoors of our own.

A team of researchers, led by Robin Barnard of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used 152 observations of Chandra spanning over 13 years to locate the 26 new black hole candidates. Nine had been recognized from earlier operate. These black holes belong to the stellar-mass black hole category, which implies they had been produced when a massive star collapsed and are about 5 to 10 occasions the mass of the Sun.

This wide-field view of Andromeda includes optical information from the Burrell Schmidt telescope of the Warner and Swansey Observatory on Kitt Peak in Arizona. Further detail of the core and dust in the spiral arms comes from an image taken by astrophotographer Vicent Peris utilizing data from two of his personal telescopes. In this combined optical image, red, green, and blue show distinct bands from the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The inset contains X-ray data from multiple Chandra observations of the central region of Andromeda. This Chandra image shows 28 of the 35 black hole candidates in this view, visible by mousing over the image.

Seven of the 35 black hole candidates are inside only 1,000 light years of the Andromeda Galaxy’s center (mouse more than the image for the dotted circle enclosing these sources). This is far more than the quantity of black hole candidates with comparable properties positioned close to the center of our own Galaxy. This, even so, does not take astronomers by surprise, since the bulge of stars in the middle of Andromeda is bigger, permitting a lot more black holes to form.

Eight of the nine black hole candidates that have been previously identified are related with globular clusters, the ancient concentrations of stars distributed in a spherical pattern about the center of the galaxy. This also differentiates Andromeda from the Milky Way as astronomers have however to uncover a comparable black hole in one particular of the Milky Way’s globular clusters.

Andromeda, also recognized as Messier 31 (M31), is a spiral galaxy situated about 2.five million light years away. It is believed that the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide several billion years from now. The black holes situated in each galaxies will then reside in the large, elliptical galaxy that outcomes from this merger.

These outcomes are obtainable on-line and will be published in the June 20th concern of The Astrophysical Journal. Numerous of the Andromeda observations were made inside Chandra’s Guaranteed Time Observer program.

Read entire caption/view a lot more photos:

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CSIC-IEEC/N.Rea et al Optical: Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma/WHT Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Caption credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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p.s. You can see all of our Chandra photographs in the Chandra Group in Flickr at: We’d really like to have you as a member!

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