An extraordinary outburst produced by a black hole in a nearby galaxy has provided direct evidence for a population of old, volatile stellar black holes. The discovery, made by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, provides new insight into the nature of a mysterious class of black holes that can produce as much energy in X-rays as a million suns radiate at all wavelengths.
An extraordinary outburst from a black hole -- where its X-ray output increased at least 3,000 times -- has been seen with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in the galaxy M83. Chandra observed what is called a ULX, or ultraluminous X-ray source. The panel on the left features an optical view of the full M83 galaxy, while the right panel shows a close up of the region where the ULX was found with data from Chandra (pink) and Hubble (blue and yellow). The remarkable behavior of this ULX in M83 provides direct evidence for a population of older, volatile, stellar-mass black holes. (Credit: Credit: Left image - Optical: ESO/VLT; Close-up - X-ray: NASA/CXC/Curtin University/R. Soria et al., Optical: NASA/STScI/Middlebury College/F. Winkler et al.)
Source: Science Daily